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THE death of Dr. J. H. Leckie on 
September 14 has deprived the 
Church of Scotland of one of its 
most attractive personalities and one 
of its ablest theologians. 

He was not widely known in the 
public life of the Church, for ill-health 
and temperament combined to keep 
him withdrawn from anything of the 
kind, but through a wide circle of 
friendships and by a succession of 
books of remarkable distinction his in 
fluence upon the life of the Church was 
in truth far deeper and wider than that 
of many whose names are more widely 
known, and of one at least of his books 
it is safe to say it will form part of the 
history of British theology. 

He was the son of a distinguished 
minister and preacher of the former 
United Presbyterian Church, Dr. Leckie, 
of Ibrox Church, Glasgow, and studied 
at Glasgow University under Edward 
Caird, whom he always regarded with 
gratitude and veneration. From that 
ministry he passed on to the United 
Presbyterian Hall in Edinburgh. 

He was soon called to be minister of 
Boston Church, Cupar, and was 
minister there for some years. The 
same qualities of mind and spirit as he 
had shown at college drew round him 
in increasing numbers a devoted con 
gregation, and his resignation was 
received with the deepest regret -by 
his congregation and brother ministers 
,in the Presbytery. During his ministry 
./ABp amos J9AO noA unj 
HTM JOIOOQ aq/^H : ajojaq SutuaAa 
IBm piss PBU; A'atLL 'sijooi 
puy i-inu; Jtam jo a.iBMB A'ja'mcre 
auiBoaq awio.iBQ -uo aAOJp au; qnq 
'paiiuis PUB pa^niBS JO^OOQ 'idol jau; 
jo apBijs am .lapun UMoaq PUB 
'JJBO mny; pun 'pauan^dn aoBj 
S ( BPV aas prnoo autio.reo 




paujnq. PBU; uauioM OA\I 

uo aAOJp 

..'A^issaoau am aas ^uop 
PBU; aM ifuim i -J.IBQ 
S3i.iBuia.i am paaaquiauiaa au;s 
^001 i-iojtuoosip jo Sutpaj y 

pJBl{ SBM 80BJ 

jo apis am ./do^s I.UOM aA\ 
Bpy jo 

through all his life an ardent intere 
in that adventurous sport. He had 
both physical and moral courage in p. 
high' degree, and a clarity and decision 
of moral judgment that could burn as 
well as illuminate. These qualities, 
combined with a wide range of thought 
and a steady intensity of faith, made 
him a natural leader among his fellow 
students in Edinburgh, who would, I 
think, have generally agreed that he 
was the ablest and most gifted student 
of his time, as he was certainly the 
most mature. That after life would 
have fully justified this judgment T 
have no doubt. As it is, his influence 
though hidden has been deep and last 
ing, and his life, to those who knew him, 
had in it an element of the heroic. 
While cant and inhumanity roused, as 
has been indicated, something very 
formidable in him, he had a wide and 
luminous sympathy for men and 
women, generally rising out of a deep 
humanity and a compassion for human 
sorrow and pain, which was kept from 
pessimism and turned into a reasoned 
optimism, as his greatest book shows, 
only by his unshakable faith in God 
as made manifest in Jesus Christ His 
Son. Unlike so many theological books, 
it is literature as well as doctrine, 
rising sometimes to passages of grave 
and solemn beauty of expression. 

While the book runs counter in cer 
tain respects to traditional beliefs on 


pauappaj samoojBq 
sasnoij amu pam 
'At/wois A'JBA jBBZBq am jo 
urem ato uA\op Suttuoo aj9M PUB 
m ijai pBtt Aam auni 
pasBa[d ' 


W ? sn f 
puB do^s 

pus 'sauB{dojaB 
asm 'SIIBI 3uo\ ai 
isBd pay 
jo iti3m a(ov{A\ B 
^nq 'auaos iqSuq 


puoAaq ^UBSBaid SBA\ ^i 'Aap 03 sauces 
am uo saauuBq asui ^no pBaads ' 
^ep puB pai 'SUBS s.uauiOA aaaj& 
sauo miM PUB S'jnou.s mm 'saAjasuiam 
3uiqsBA\ 8J8AV saipoq UMOjq Su;uo^s;iS 
uaut 'pauiBUiaa ism stood am "I 

In Post 8vo. Price 55. net 



THIS book attempts to show that the theory which 
traces Authority in Religion to the direct, universal 
communion .of God with man involves recognition of 
the great "objective" forms in which Authority 
presents itself as a fact of history and of experience. 

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS : The Fact of Authority The 
Fact of Freedom The Problem of Authority Authority and 
Infallibility The Theoretic Source and Organ of Authority 
The Authority of the Prophets : The Aristocrats The Authority 
of the Church : The Christian Democracy The Authority of 
Jesus Christ : The Lord. Index, etc. 

" An exceedingly well-written book. Mr. Leckie is thoroughly 
furnished as to the material of his subject, and has the faculty of making 
it entirely interesting. On a theme which has been dealt with by 
such a host of authorities, it seems difficult to say anything new, but 
readers will find here a freshness of statement combined with a courage 
and candour which holds the attention throughout." Christian World. 



THE " KERR LECTURESHIP " was founded by the TRUSTEES of the late 
Miss JOAN KERR of Sanquhar, under her Deed of Settlement, and 
formally adopted by the United Presbyterian Synod in May 1886. In the 
following year, May 1887, the provisions and conditions of the Lecture 
ship, as finally adjusted, Avere adopted by the Synod, and embodied in a 
Memorandum, printed in the Appendix to the Synod Minutes, p. 489. 

On the union of the United Presbyterian Church with the Free 
Church of Scotland in October 1900, the necessary changes were made in 
the designation of the object of the Lectureship and the persons eligible 
for appointment to it, so as to suit the altered circumstances. And at 
the General Assembly of 1901 it was agreed that the Lectureship should 
in future be connected with the Glasgow College of the United Free 
Church. From the Memorandum, as thus amended, the following 
excerpts are here given : 

II. The amount to be invested shall be 3000. 

III. The object of the Lectureship is the promotion of the Study of 
Scientific Theology in the United Free Church of Scotland. 

The Lectures shall be upon some such subjects as the following, viz. : 

A. Historic Theology 

(1) Biblical Theology, (2) History of Doctrine, (3) Patristics, 
with special reference to the significance and authority 
of the first three centuries. 

B. Systematic Theology 

(1) Christian Doctrine () Philosophy of Religion, (b) Com 

parative Theology, (c) Anthropology, (d) Christology, 
(e) Soteriology, (/) Eschatology. 

(2) Christian Ethics (a) Doctrine of Sin, (b) Individual and 

Social Ethics, (c) The Sacraments, (d) The Place of Art 

in Religious Life and Worship. 

Further, the Committee of Selection shall, from time to time, as they 
think fit, appoint as the subject of the Lectures any important Phases of 
Modern Religious Thought or Scientific Theories in their bearing upon 
Evangelical ^Theology. The Committee may also appoint a subject 
connected with the practical work of the Ministry as subject of Lecture, 
but in no case shall this be admissible more than once in every five 

IV. The appointments to this Lectureship shall be made in the first 
instance from among the Licentiates or Ministers of the United Free 


Church of Scotland, of whom no one shall be eligible who, when the 
appointment falls to be made, shall have been licensed for more than 
twenty-five years, and who is not a graduate of a British University, 
preferential regard being had to those who have for some time l>een 
connected with a Continental University. 

V. Appointments to this Lectureship not subject to the conditions 
in Section IV. may also from time to time, at the discretion of the 
Committee, be made from among eminent members of the Ministry of 
any of the Nonconformist Churches of Great Britain and Ireland, 
America, and the Colonies, or of the Protestant Evangelical Churches of 
the Continent. 

VI. The Lecturer shall hold the appointment for three years. 

VII. The number of Lectures to be delivered shall be left to the 
discretion of the Lecturer, except thus far, that in no case shall there be 
more than twelve or less than eight. 

VIII. The Lectures shall be published at the Lecturer's own expense 
within one year after their delivery. 

IX. The Lectures shall be delivered to the students of the Glasgow 
College of the United Free Church of Scotland. 

XII. The Public shall be admitted to the Lectures. 




By JAMES KIDD, D.D. 10s. 6d. net. 


By DAVID W. FORREST, D.D. Seventh Edition. 6s. net. 


By ROBERT J. DRUMMOND, D.D. Second Edition. 10s. net. 


By J. C. LAMBERT, D.D. 10s. net. 


By Prof. ROBERT LAW, D.D. Third Edition. 9s. net. 


By Prof. A. C. WELCH, Theol.D. 9s. net. 


By Prof. W. MORGAN, ; D.D. 9s. net. 















" HOWBEIT, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will 
guide you into all truth ; . . . and He will show you 
things to come." 

Edinburgh: T. & T. CLARK, 38 George Street 











I CANNOT claim that this book, like some others recently 
published, owes its origin to the circumstances of the present 
time. When I had the honour of being appointed to the Kerr 
Lectureship the war had but recently begun, and I chose the 
subject of the Last Things because I had already given to it a 
good deal of study, and also because it had not been treated by 
any of my predecessors. Nevertheless, I have been influenced 
throughout this discussion by an acute sense of the perplexities 
that beset the faith in immortality in these days of death and 
sacrifice. We all understand better to-day than we did three 
years ago the attitude of the Jewish prophets towards the 
enemies of the good cause, and the tone of Jesus in speaking 
of sins against love and humanity. Also, we realise perhaps 
more fully than we used to do that the Christian view of the 
Divine character cannot easily be maintained apart from an 
adequate doctrine of final destiny. 

The Kerr Lectures are delivered to theological students ; 
but it is evident from the terms of the Trust that they are 
designed also to reach a wider audience. I have tried, in 
preparing this book, to keep this double end in view, and to 
combine theological accuracy with such a form of expression 
as may commend itself to. the non-professional reader. One 
must admit, however, that this endeavour has been embarrassed 
somewhat by the necessity of using certain technical terms 


which belong to the vocabulary of my subject. Some of these 
terms are uncouth, some are obscure, and some are inaccurate. 
" Eschatology " and " eschatological," for instance, are distaste 
ful from the literary standpoint, and they are not commonly 
understood. One finds that educated people are not always 
aware that Eschatology means the Doctrine of the Last Things ; 
and when the matter is explained, they justly object that there 
can be no " last things " in the life of an immortal, and that 
resurrection and judgment, for example, are not really final 
if they are ends they are also beginnings. And yet, whatever 
exception we may take to these words, they cannot be omitted 
without having resort to roundabout and ambiguous phrases. 
Again, " Conditionalism " and " Conditionalist " are evident 
barbarisms; but they have established themselves, and must 
be employed. " Universalism " is also open to objection ; and 
I have sometimes used in its place the expression " Christian 
optimism." " Apocalyptic " and " apocalypses," too, are clatter 
ing terms whose constant repetition becomes intolerable ; and 
this must be my justification for speaking often of " the Jewish 
' revelation ' books " and " the Jewish ' revelation ' literature." 

Some of the definitions adopted in this work would not be 
accepted by certain scholars ; and they are, of course, subject 
to qualification. Thus, I have sharply distinguished apocalypse 
from dogma and speculation ; and one must agree that while 
this distinction is generally valid it is not without exceptions. 
Again, it may be noted that in the first chapter I have 
mentioned certain books which are not apocalyptic in form; 
but my defence is that all these writings adhere to the general 
standpoint of the Jewish mystics and exhibit in their prophetic 
passages the spirit of Apocalypse. It is evident, further, that 
when one speaks of " Jewish " thought, as opposed to " Hellen 
istic " and " Greek," one i.s indicating a distinction that is not 
absolute: no doubt, the later Judaism was all penetrated 
more or less by foreign influences. Finally, the ordering of 
the discussion which is indicated by its division into Parts I. 


und II. involves a certain amount of repetition; but I can 
think of no equally comprehensive scheme which would not 
be even more open to this objection. After all, this study is 
largely concerned with history; and history is indifferent to 
the rules of logic and is rich in cross-divisions. 

In seeking to indicate the sources of Christian forms of 
belief I have not gone farther back than the literature of 
Judaism Apocalyptic, Alexandrian, and Eabbinic. The 
Jewish mind, during especially the two centuries preceding the 
birth of our Saviour, collected a great store of imaginative 
symbols, of speculations and of beliefs, regarding the Age to 
come. And it was from this store that Christianity derived the 
modes of its eschatology. No doubt, Judaism in its turn was 
indebted to the Old Testament, to Greek philosophy, to the 
Persian and the Egyptian religions, and to the traditions of 
many peoples. But I have not thought it necessary to dwell 
at length on this matter. When we undertake to describe the 
source of a river, it is enough to consider the lake out of which 
it flows ; there is no need to trace the various streams by which 
the lake itself is fed. Of course, when one speaks of certain 
beliefs as " apocalyptic," one does not mean to say that these 
were peculiar to the Jewish prophetic writers, but only that 
they were emphasised by these writers, and received from them 
the distinctive semblance and colour which they bear in many 
parts of the New Testament and have continued to exhibit in 
later Christian tradition. 

Burke describes himself as one " who shuns contention, 
though he will hazard an opinion." Well, a writer on eschat 
ology cannot altogether avoid contention, and he must hazard 
an opinion ; but the purpose of this book is not controversial, 
nor is it mainly the advancement of a private speculation. 
Endeavour is made throughout to preserve the historical 
standpoint, and to give due weight to each of those forms of 
faith and of thought that have found and maintained a place 
in Christian Eschatology. 


It will be recognised that a book prepared and published 
under present conditions labours under certain disadvantages. 
Thus, I have thought it necessary, owing to the need of 
economising paper, to sacrifice a good deal of detailed work 
which I had intended for the appendices. In view of this 
exclusion of material it is permissible to say that I have 
referred throughout to the sources, and have not sought to 
expound or to criticise any writer whom I have not read. To 
make this statement is not to claim any credit, since it 
indicates the bare fulfilment of an obvious duty. 

My thanks are due to Colonel the Rev. Robert Primrose, 
C.F., who delivered the lectures for me in my unavoidable 
absence. The Revs. Prof. Cairns, D.D., J. T. Dean, M.A., and 
A. Scott Murray, B.D., read the MS. and favoured me with 
valuable criticism. Sir John M. Clark, Bart, (my publisher), 
took a kind interest in the work during its passage through 
the press, and suggested some useful emendations. The Rev. 
W. H. Macfarlane revised the proofs with me. The Rev. D. M. 
Baillie, M.A., also assisted us in this matter and prepared the 
Indices. To all these gentlemen I am deeply indebted. 

I desire, further, to recognise the consideration shown me 
by the Senatus of the United Free Church College, Glasgow, 
in unusual circumstances, as well as the courteous reception 
given to the lectures by the students of that Seminary. 

J. H. L. 

May 1918. 







IV. GEHENNA ....... 103 













APPENDIX I. General View of Eschatoloyical Doctrine in Twelve 

Jewish Books ..... 326 

II. Comparative Statement of Jewish and New Testa 

ment Eschatology ..... 332 

III. Meaning of New Testament Term "Eternal" . 346 

IV. Future Punishment in the Creeds . . . 353 


INDEX I. SUBJECTS ....... 355 

II. AUTHORS . . 360 





1. THE man who undertakes the discussion of any subject 
must ask to be granted certain postulates. He must be allowed 
a foundation on which to build. Even the strictest of thinkers 
requires of us many concessions. And so it is quite a modest 
thing for one to begin the present study with the assumption 
that we are agreed on two matters of opinion. The first of 
these is the belief that human personality survives death, and 
the second is that some kind of eschatology is involved in the 
principles of our Faith. These two presuppositions may be 
described as modest ; since to deny the first is to depart entirely 
from historical Christianity, and since a refusal of the second 
would imply that religious thought has no unity, the redemption 
in Christ no definite end, and the purpose of God no final goal. 

But, if these two things be granted, the importance of 
Eschatology becomes at once apparent. It is seen to be 
occupied with no matters of trivial moment or of . merely 
academic interest, but with questions of the gravest speculative 
import and of the most intimate human concern. The doctrine 
of the Last Things has for its theme those beliefs which give 
definite content to the thought of immortality 7 that thought 
without which there is no meaning or power in any of the 
great affirmations of our Faith. It has to do with those solemn 
and radiant expectations which, reaching beyond the limits of 
this transitory life, afford solace and cheer and warning to men 
throughout their pilgrimage, inform their hopes with larger 
promise and urge their thoughts to vaster issues. 

Evidently, then, this is a realm of thought in the service of 
which one might gladly labour for a lifetime, content witli the 


hope of contributing but a little towards the solution of its 
problems. Clearly, also, it is a theme which requires of us 
that we approach it with sympathy, and that we regard it in 
the liberal light of history. It is not a matter on which an 
irresponsible individualism can exercise itself to any useful 
end. One must assume that no great eschatological doctrine 
has begun, continued, and ended in error and evil must, on 
the contrary, hold it certain that every such belief has had its 
main source in truth, and has owed its strength and persist 
ence to the verity which it contains. " False " doctrines 
survive because of their secret; truthfulness ; and no view of 
ultimate destiny ever held by men has been without its root 
in a conviction of the conscience, an experience of the soul, a 
demand of life. It is when we forget this that our faith is 
troubled, and that we fail in generous appreciation of the 
testimony of the Church. It is as we remember this, and 
patiently continue in the light of it, that we enter into that 
peace of mind which comes of understanding that, at any rate, 
we are enabled to find the only path that leads towards recon 
ciliation, and towards a truer statement of the universal faith. 
2. But if Eschatology is thus an important part of religious 
theory, it presents difficulties that are fully commensurate 
with its dignity. Worthy to be mentioned among these is the 
extent to which the study of this subject is perplexed by the 
conflict of authorities. The domain of Eschatology extends on 
every hand into the territories of the experts ; and these are 
regions of perpetual strife. Whether the theme of immediate 
discussion be the teaching of the Apocalypses or of the Eabbis, 
of Philo, St. Paul, the Fathers or the Schoolmen ; whether it 
be the doctrine of Kesurrection, Judgment, the Intermediate 
State, or Final Destiny it is enveloped in a cloud of warring 
words. So much is this so that the plain man is liable to be 
intimidated into a position of ineffectual neutrality. In any 
case, he feels that whatever opinion he may express has been 
decisively rejected by some important theological personage. 
His only way of escape is to go to the original writings, to 
accept no second-hand account of any author's teaching, to 
verify every reference, and to do the best he can. 


3. Again, Eschatology is rendered peculiarly perplexing by 
the symbolic nature of its latiguaye. It is rich in imaginative 
signs and pictures. Necessarily so; since it deals with the 
future and the unexperienced, and imagination is the only 
faculty whereby we can present to our minds the things that 
belong to that realm. No one has definite knowledge of things 
to come, or of things that are within the veil ; but faith has 
premonitions regarding them, and it expresses these in imagery 
drawn from human life and experience. Hence that richly 
hued and splendid world of concrete symbols in which the 
hearts of men have been at home throughout the ages of 
Christian faith. Hence, in particular, such forms as Judgment, 
Eesurrection, the Second Advent, Hades, Heaven and Hell. 
All these are fruits of history, not of speculation. And for 
this reason they do not lend themselves to systematic treat 

It is to be remembered, also, that even those elements in 
Eschatology which are called doctrinal or dogmatic are, from 
the historical point of view, simply forms of faith. Doctrines 
of the Last Things do not start, like theories of the Person of 
Christ or of the Atonement, from a basis in past events. They 
can neither be proved nor discredited by an appeal to the 
records of days gone by. Neither can they be judged as if 
they were scientific accounts of the known and material world. 
They belong to the region of conjecture and vision. They are 
prophecies based on the contents of the Gospel and the moral 
convictions of religious men. They find in conscience and 
revelation certain elements, and out of these they seek to build 
a spiritual City of the Unseen. They see certain tendencies 
at work in the world, and they predict what the final result of 
these tendencies will be. They project, as it were, the lines of 
present experience into the Unknown and trace them to their 
goal Being rational forms, they are subject to rational 
criticism. But they cannot be condemned forthwith on the 
sole ground that the understanding finds faults in their 
structure. They require to be tested by standards that are 
less simple and less easily applied. Thus, the theory of 
Eternal Punishment or of Conditional Immortality or of 


Universal Restoration is rightly subjected to the examination 
of the reason, because it professes to be reasonable. But the 
most important question to be asked about it is To what 
degree does it correspond with spiritual and moral facts ? Has 
it a true basis in the Gospel of Christ ? Is it an assertion of 
something in faith which, without it, might be forgotten or 
ignored ? 

4. But the chief difficulty which besets this branch of 
theological study is due to the immense variety and confusion 
of its forms a variety and confusion which have arisen out of 
historical influences and the diversities of Christian thought. 
No doubt, it would conduce very much to an orderly treatment 
of the subject if we were to adopt private judgment as the test 
of truth, and exclude from consideration every doctrine, every 
hope and every fear, which is not ours. But such a proceeding 
would, we fear, work great havoc among the forms of Eschat- 
ology. It might prove to be the kind of method that makes 
a desert and calls it peace. And its results might suggest the 
saying that " where no oxen are the stalls are clean." Evi 
dently, we must regard as Christian every form of belief that 
lias established an assured place in the thought of the Church. 
And there can be no question that the field of Eschatology, 
when thus viewed from a catholic and historical standpoint, 
presents an aspect of great confusion. It is li^e a straitened 
sea, wherein many opposing tides cause a leaping of troubled 
waters. A great stream of thought flowing through Judaism 
from sources out of sight ; a powerful current of Greek specula 
tion ; a force that represents historical experiences and ancient 
battles ; an influence that has its origin in the evolutionary 
view of things all these converge in the region of Eschatology. 
Jewish Mystics, Platonists, Schoolmen, Idealists, Trans 
cendental visionaries, rigid logicians, humanitarian enthusiasts, 
poets and men of science, have all contributed something to 
its content. Fantastic dreams and crude imaginings have 
place in it along with lofty thoughts and profound spiritual 
i ntuitions. Philosophical and pictorial elements are curiously 
entangled together. Beliefs which contradict each other in 
the plainest way claim a common source in Revelation. Alto- 


gether, it is doubtful whether any department of religious 
thought is so rich in discords and confusions as the Christian 
Doctrine of the Last Things. 

5. We may reasonably doubt whether it will ever be 
possible to bring order out of all this perplexity, or to reduce 
to system the amazing variety of the eschatological forms. 
Certainly no such ambitious endeavour is contemplated in this 
discussion. I suggest, however, that we may obtain a clue to 
some partial understanding, and find something resembling a 
path through the labyrinth, if we keep carefully in mind the 
distinction between the logical statement of a doctrine and its 
meaning and value for faith ; and if we separate, throughout, 
forms which are imaginative and pictorial from those which 
are doctrinal and abstract. And it is in pursuance of this 
view that I have divided this course of Lectures into two parts ; 
separating the apocalyptic element in the Christian teaching 
about things to come from those speculative theories of human 
destiny which are answers to a problem created by the Gospel 
and by the progress of religious thought. This division affords 
a convenient ordering of the discussion, and helps us to avoid 
those troubles which always arise when Apocalypse is confused 
with dogma, and when the language of vision and prophecy is 
mistaken for that of sober-minded science. 

I cannot hide from you that in pursuing this study we 
shall have to travel along well-beaten paths. But this is a 
disadvantage that is not peculiar to Eschatology. The theo 
logian must cultivate a hopeful frame of mind must learn to 
tread frequented ways in a mood of expectation, and to sail 
familiar seas in the spirit of Columbus. 




1. It is necessary to begin the study of the apocalyptic 
forms, as they appear in Christian history, by reminding our- 


selves of certain features that characterise the " revelation " 
literature of Judaism in which these find their classical expres 
sion. Apocalypse must be regarded as a true development of 
an element in Old Testament prophecy, since we find even in 
the earlier prophets, as well as in later writers, predictions of 
the coming of the Kingdom heralded by the Messianic woes, 
the Consummation of glory and blessedness, the Judgment and 
even the Kesurrection. 1 But the roots of Apocalypse stretch 
far back into history and must be sought in the religions of 
Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and in the dreams of " silent, vanished 
races." Apocalypse is prophecy expressed in concrete terms 
of the imagination, and dealing with things that transcend 
knowledge and experience, and are thus incapable of logical 
proof or purely spiritual exposition. It is an " unveiling," a 
" revealing," but it is so after a peculiar fashion of its own. 
It does not declare doctrines; it tells visions. It does not 
teach principles ; it paints pictures. The writer of a Jewish 
" revelation " does not tell us that we shall be judged of God ; 
he shows us a great white throne, and One who sits thereon en 
compassed by angelic hosfis. Instead of saying, " The wages of 
sin is death," he reveals to us a burning fiery furnace. He is 
not content to declare that the good cause will be victorious ; he 
pictures an army of the righteous that destroy the wicked, 
and a Messianic Kingdom established in a new and glorified 

2. The apocalyptic literature may be said to have reached 
its fullest development during the period between 200 B.C. 
and 120 A.D. It embodies a type of piety, in some respects 
very inferior to that of the Old Testament narrower, less 
spiritual, less generous in its attitude to humanity, less be 
lieving in its attitude to God. But at the same time it repre 
sents an advance of religious thought, especially in the doctrine 
of immortality. It was a necessary preparation for the Gospel ; 
and it was in the light of the hopes and the fears it expressed 
that the early Church interpreted Jesus Christ. 

3. An apocalypse was generally issued in the name of 

1 Of. A. C. Welch, Religion of Israel under the Kingdom (especially chaps, 


some saint or prophet of great renown, like Enoch or Moses, 
Ezra or Daniel ; and its method was to represent this venerable 
personage as describing his visions, relating the things that he 
had seen and heard in mysterious journeyings through the 
regions of the spiritual world. It was commonly written in 
some time of distress, to comfort a suffering party or people. 
Every crisis in later Jewish history every time of calamity, 
struggle, persecution produced its book of "revelation." 
When the burden of humiliation was heavy, when hope was 
like to die, when the hearts of men burned with wrath and fear, 
then this strange messenger appeared, to proclaim the coming 
redemption and the day of the vengeance of the Most High. 

It is easy to see why writings produced at such times and 
for such purposes assumed their peculiar characteristics. 
When you are professing to tell a dream you need not be 
precise or accurate ; you may use images most fantastic and 
highly coloured ; you need not avoid confusions or discords ; 
you may write without constraint and let your fancy have 
the rein. Thus you can appeal immediately to the hot 
imaginations of men, and fill their minds with hopes which 
are all the more stimulating in that they are vague and do 
not awaken the sceptical powers of the understanding. Also, 
it is a very wise thing to put your words into the mouth of 
Moses or Daniel ; for in so doing you conceal your own 
unimpressive personality, and secure the powerful imaginative 
appeal of a great and shining name. Contemporaries who 
might not receive your revelation if they knew it to be yours, 
will accept it, perhaps, if they think it comes from Enoch. 

Further, it is evident that when a man is describing a 
dream he can refer to tyrants and oppressors, and to current 
events, in a figurative way, so that his language may be 
understood easily by those who have the key to its meaning, 
while it will convey nothing to less fortunate persons. And 
this is certainly a great advantage when those whose characters 
and deeds are being attacked have a sword in their hand 
and sit in the seats of the mighty. 1 

1 The dream form of expression originated in mystical experiences like those 
of Isaiah, St. Paul, Philo, but it became a literary convention. 


4. Certainly, the apocalyptic writers take full advantage 
of the licence given them by their peculiar form of literary 
art. Their pictures are confused and indistinct. They observe 
no order or sequence of events. They repeat an assertion 
over and over again. They contradict themselves with a 
freedom hardly excusable even in a dreamer. They care 
nothing for congruity in their imagery: sheep carry swords, 
stars fall from heaven and become beasts of the field, 
altars speak, lambs inspire terror, impossible creatures 
keep doing impossible things. There is a quivering and 
uncertainty in their descriptions as in pictures cast upon a 
screen ; and the colouring is brilliant yet blurred, as in a 
feverish vision. 

5. The spirit of the Apocalypses in their allusions to the 
enemy is fierce and bitter. It could not indeed be other than 
this. Books that were written for the express purpose of 
prophesying vengeance could not be expected to contain a 
message of grace. Declarations of war could not be couched 
in terms of peace. Words of compassion would have been out 
of place in a warning of judgment. A garland of flowers on 
the handle of an executioner's axe were as fitting as soft words 
of charity in an apocalypse. These were stern books, written 
in stern days. Their mission was to witness against the 
victorious enemy, the arrogant usurper, the tormentor of the 
weak, the lying teacher of religion ; and to proclaim against 
all these a message of hastening doom. This mission they 
perform with exuberant power, with unwearying zest, with 
redundancy of malignant force. For the opposing party, the 
cruel persecutors, the "kings and the mighty," the apostate 
Jews, the Gentiles, the fallen angels, all the workers of 
iniquity, there is foretold slavery, torment, eternal fire, total 
destruction. In this aspect of them the Apocalypses are the 
Black Country of literature. Flames leap up against a sky of 
darkness, and the gloomy valleys are filled with the voices of 
despair. The Creator himself rejoices in the destruction of 
his creatures, the Messiah exults in the work of his sword. 
As one reads the message of death and damnation in the 
Book of Enoch, the mind grows weary of the flaring colours ; 


the imagination is jaded by the long succession of horrors. 
The tired senses refuse to respond, at last, to the reek of blood 
and the smoke of fire. 

6. Over against these pictures of vengeance, we find in 
the Apocalypses a presentation of the joys that await the 
righteous. This side of their message contains many beautiful 
and tender sayings, and is almost as vivid as the other, as 
lavish in imagery, as fertile in fancy. The pictures of future 
blessedness are as emphatic and unrelieved as the pictures of 
perdition. As the wicked have no light in their darkness, so 
the righteous have no shadows in their light. They are 
perfectly victorious, happy and strong ; they dwell in a new 
world with God and His Anointed ; are clothed with light as 
with a garment, and walk in eternal goodness and truth. 
They are satisfied with the likeness of the Lord, and reap in 
perpetual harvest the fruits of all their sorrow. 

"On the heights of that world shall they dwell, 
And they shall be made like unto the angels, 
And be made equal to the stars ; 

And they shall be changed into every form they desire, 
From beauty into loveliness, 
And from light into' the splendour of glory." 1 



1. Their problem and its solution. When, however, one 
says that an apocalypse owed its birth, as a rule, to a par 
ticular crisis in national affairs, one does not mean to infer 
that the book was concerned only with that crisis, or that its 
predictions applied merely to the issue of one special conflict. 
The battle of which the author was himself a spectator was, to 
his mind, an example of many similar conflicts, an episode in 
the age-long war between the evil and the good. The problem 
he faced was not merely the difficulty of explaining why 
1 Apoc. of Baruch, 51 10 . 


the unrighteous should triumph in his own generation, it was 
the problem of the prosperity of the wicked in all genera 
tions. Hence, his thought travelled far beyond the cir 
cumstances which immediately suggested his writing and 
embraced the whole moral problem of history, as he under 
stood it. His task was, though after a somewhat narrow 
fashion, " to assert eternal providence and justify the ways of 
God to men." 

The solution which the apocalyptic prophet gave of the 
problem thus set before him was always in substance the same. 
He pointed forward to a quickly coming end of this world, to 
a Judgment that should redress the wrongs of the present evil 
state. He had no belief in the effective working of divine 
grace in the lives of men, no conception of a Kingdom of God 
that was like the leaven gradually leavening the whole of 
society. The present age was in his view desperately wicked, 
incapable of reformation. It was "full of sound and fury," 
and a great many worse things, and it "signified nothing" 
that was hopeful or gracious. Like the modern anarchist 
who finds no good thing in the existing social order and 
believes that the whole fabric must be destroyed and a new 
one built up in its place, so the Jewish seer believed the 
present world to be so evil that nothing remained for it but 
speedy and utter destruction. All his hopes for the future 
were staked on a violent intervention of divine power 
wrecking, slaying, burning with fire. This great catas 
trophe, this terrible day of the Lord, was at hand. Not 
long now till the Judge appeared, till the heavens were 
rent asunder, till the angelic hosts came forth on the last 
campaign. Not long till the books were opened and the 
doom begun, till the fire devoured the Gentiles with the devil 
and all his armies, till the descent of the New Jerusalem 
from heaven and the establishment of the elect in everlasting 

"For the youth of the world is past, 
And the strength of the creation already exhausted, 
And the advent of the times is very short, 
Yea, they are passed by : 


And the pitcher is near to the cistern, 
And the ship to the port, 
And the course of the journey to the city, 
And life to its consummation." 1 

2. Their mew of the universe. It is this prophecy of 
Judgment, of an approaching Eevolution and Vindication by 
the intervention of God, that is the proper task, the one 
unchanging characteristic of Apocalypse. Optimism as to the 
future, rooted in pessimism as to the present, is its mood ; 
the coming consummation is its theme. Whatever is more 
than this is only accessory and embellishment. All ethical 
teaching, all historical statement, all doctrinal speculation, is 
strictly subordinate to the prophecy of the End. Yet, these 
incidental elements in the " revelation " books are of the 
utmost value and interest. They contain many passages of 
poetic beauty and religious elevation, and they enable us to see 
the Universe as it appeared to the eyes of the contemporaries 
and fellow countrymen of Jesus. It is evident that, to those 
Jews, the invisible world was an ever-present, poignant 
reality. Every hot spring was the place where a demon was 
tortured. Every well of healing water was the agent of 
angelic ministry. Throughout the whole unseen universe, as 
in the life of man, good and evil forces strove unceasingly for 
victory. Guardian spirits watched over the lives of mortals 
with perpetual intercession; and devils thronged the air 
seeking to destroy the bodies and souls of men. In the 
heavens above, as on the earth beneath, was waged aeonian 
war. Yet, somewhere above all the strife and confusion, God 
sat on His throne amid the sevenfold Hallelujahs; and His 
purpose was almighty. Every life had its appointed end and 
its predestined place, and all things must finally be according 
to the will of the "Holy One," the "Father of Israel," the 
" Lord of Spirits." 

Such was the scheme of things as it appeared to those 

ancient Jews ; and it is worthy of note that medieval Christians 

inhabited a very similar world of thought. The universe of 

Enoch and Ezra was the universe also of Aquinas and of 

1 Apoc. Bar. 85 10 . 


Dante. For these as for those, the seven heavens were 
overhead, and the regions of despair were underneath their 
feet ; the hierarchy of thrones and dominations, principalities 
and powers, angels and archangels, stood around the throne 
of God ; human life was compassed about by unseen forces of 
good and evil; saints and holy spirits were ever "at their 
priestly task " of intercession for the souls of men. Also, the 
Kingdom which the Jewish seers prophesied, wherein God was 
to be present with His people, the Messiah was to dwell 
among them in glory, the saints were to feast upon mystical 
food, and eternity was to dominate time this Kingdom was, in 
a measure, realised for the medieval Christian in the Church. 
The very God tabernacled with men on every altar; Christ 
dwelt visibly with His people in the person of His Vicar on 
earth ; the faithful were nourished, in the Mass, with the body 
and blood of the Eedeemer ; and life everlasting was present in 
all the ministries of salvation, in all the sacraments of grace. 

3. Undogmatic character of their thought. It is, however, 
of the utmost importance for the purposes of our later discus 
sions to remember that the " revelation " writers were not 
systematic theologians, that they did not speak the language of 
dogma, and that their mentality resembled, in no respect, that 
of a modern Herr Professor. The Jewish mystics were persons 
to whom, as Dr. Burkitt says, " consistency and rationality 
were quite secondary considerations." a Certainly, a study of 
their writings lends no support to the notion that there existed 
among the Jews any uniformity of belief regarding the Last 
Things. If we question them about the precise meaning of 
even the great apocalyptic Forms, we obtain little satisfaction. 
The Fall of man did it come about through the sin of Adam, 
or through the apostasy of the angels ? The coming Kingdom 
is it to be an earthly empire, or a spiritual and heavenly 
state ? The Messiah are we to expect Him or not ; and, if 
He is to come, what mission is He to fulfil ? The Resurrection 
is it a bodily rising from the grave; or a purely spiritual 
event, the rising of the soul out of Hades ? Are all men to 
rise, or Israel only, or the righteous of Israel ? The Last 

1 Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, p. 48. 


Assize is the Judge to be God Himself, or the Messiah? 
The Intermediate State is it a place of opportunity; and 
does prayer avail for those therein ? Gehenna does it repre 
sent annihilation or aeonian torment ? All these are questions 
to which we receive, from the Jewish oracles, only obscure and 
discordant replies. 

One may illustrate this by reference to the apocalyptic 
prophecies of future punishment. In the oldest part of the 
Book of Enoch l things are said which indicate a joyful convic 
tion that everlasting torments await the unrighteous. But 
then, the writer of this document had no clear conception of 
personal immortality ; and it is plain to the simplest mind that 
without unending personal life there can be no unending 
punishment. Also, he tells us that an existence of five hundred 
years is life everlasting ; 2 so that his notion of what constitutes 
endless duration must have been a very modest one. 

Again, the author of the Similitudes of Enoch 3 is one of 
whom we suspect theological intentions, and his statements 
about the fate of the lost are very vivid indeed. Thus, he 
says : 

" As straw in the fire so shall they bum before the face of the holy. 
As lead in the water shall they sink before the face of the 

And no trace of them shall any more be found." 4 

Now, this prophecy seems clearly to indicate the doom of 
annihilation. But some scholars who have studied Enoch for 
a very long time think that it means no such thing. So that, 
if this writer had speculation in his eye, it is evident that he 
was not able to express himself in such a way as to escape 

Once more, the writer of the Visions of Enoch 5 who describes 
the apostate Jews under the similitude of a flock of sheep, tells 
of these being cast into Gehenna, and he adds : " I saw the 
sheep burning and their bones burning."* Surely this is a 
grim and realistic picture of utter destruction. Also, there is 
not one word of this writer that even suggests everlasting 

1 Enoch 6-36. 2 10 10 . 3 37-71. 

4 48 9 . s 83-90. B 90 27 . 


torments. So that, if he was of a theological mind he probably 
believed in the annihilation of the wicked. It must, however, 
be confessed that his discourse as a whole does not indicate 
that he was given to speculation. 

Finally, in the last section of Enoch l both annihilation and 
everlasting torment seem to be predicted for sinners. It is 
said to these : " Your Creator will rejoice at your destruction." 
... "In blazing flames burning worse than fire shall ye burn." 
" Ye sinners shall be cursed forever" ..." You shall be slain 
in Sheol" 2 

Such, then, is the confused variety of prediction in this 
great Book of Enoch ; and in this characteristic it is typical of 
the whole " revelation " literature, with the possible exception 
of Second Enoch and Second Baruch. It is difficult to read all 
these books, and yet believe that the idea of annihilation was 
foreign to the Jewish mind ; but it is impossible to study them 
without being convinced that no coherent or deliberate opinion 
regarding future destiny was in the thoughts of those ancient 
prophets of wrath and judgment who spoke the language of 

It may be thought, perhaps, that this perplexity would 
disappear if we were to arrange the Jewish books in chrono 
logical order. But this is not so. No clear process of doctrinal 
development is traceable in this literature from age to age. 
The most advanced moral teaching of Judaism up to the time 
of Hillel is found in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 
written at the end of the second century B.C. Also, the only 
approach to the Synoptic idea that the Kingdom would come 
gradually is contained in the Book of Jubilees, a work contem 
porary with the Testaments. The very rich and strong 
Messianic doctrine of the Testaments, the Similitudes of Enoch 
and the Psalms of Solomon is without parallel in later books. 
And the most definite description of Hades is in the oldest 
part of Enoch. It is notable, also, that books which belong to 
the same period show little agreement in doctrine. Thus, 
Jubilees denies the bodily Eesurrection, while the Testaments 
affirm it. And the same divergence of opinion regarding this 

1 E. 91-104. 2 See App. I. and II. 


belief appears when we compare the Psalms of Solomon with 
Second Maccabees. Also, the former of these books expects the 
Messiah, and the latter does not. The Assumption of Moses 
and the Secrets of Enoch are quite opposed in tone and temper, 
and are agreed only in not predicting the Messiah. Baruch 
and Ezra show quite different estimates of the value of the 
Law. And Baruch is as sure about things as Ezra is doubtful 
and troubled. Also, Baruch contains a very elaborate doctrine 
of Eesurrection, while Ezra presents only a vague poetic 
statement. 1 

It is thus quite evident that these writers were not theo 
logians. The professional theologians of Judea did not incline 
to write apocalypse; indeed they despised it. Those who 
affected this form of literary expression were patriots, prophets, 
mystics, even poets, but they were not systematic thinkers. 
They were all, of course, predestinarians ; they believed in the 
divine calling of Israel ; and they held a more or less adequate 
doctrine of immortality. But all their conceptions were vague. 
They used in common certain accepted forms ; but, in their 
interpretation of these, they exercised great freedom of private 
judgment. Just as Christians of our own day may unite in 
repeating the Apostles' Creed and yet may differ very widely 
in their understanding of its various articles, so Jewish thinkers 
might all say, " We believe in the Kingdom, in the Eesurrec 
tion, in the Judgment, in the Reward of the Righteous, and in 
the Destruction of the Wicked " ; and yet might not be at 
one in their several interpretations of these great hopes and 

4. Their imaginative freedom. And, as the " revelation " 
writers thus attached various meanings to the assertions of their 
faith, so they used in a free and individual manner those imag 
inative phrases and symbols which belonged to their tradition- 
We cannot be sure, for instance, to what extent they regarded 
their own pictures of the unseen world as veritable transcripts 
of reality. Their art was deliberate, and rich in mechanical 

1 For refs. see App. I. and II. For an account of the development of eschat- 
ological thought, in certain subordinate aspects, see Charles, Eschatology, pp. 
241-246, 287-297, 355-361. 


devices. And they, beyond doubt, exerted their imagination 
in order to give verisimilitude to the fictitious messages of 
Patriarchs and Prophets. They varied their imagery to suit 
the requirements of their own teaching ; and no one of them 
was careful to maintain even formal harmony with other 
writers of his class. The unfortunate Patriarch Enoch, for 
instance, is made to contradict himself outrageously by the 
various authors who use his name. His statements about the 
unseen world are deplorably inharmonious with each other. 
His views about the position of Gehenna are dubious and 
changeable ; and he is not quite certain whether Hades is 
below the earth or in the Second Heaven. 1 Also, he sometimes 
believes in the Resurrection, and sometimes does not. When 
he denies this article of faith, he forgets to bring his views of 
future torment into harmony with this negation ; and goes on 
picturing with unabated zest the physical agonies of the lost. 2 
During the first century B.C. he is sometimes minute and en 
thusiastic in his portraiture of the Messiah ; but in the following 
century he has not so much as heard that such an one exists. 3 
The author of Jubilees, also, is found denying the Resurrection 
of the body, and picturing the future state of the blessed as 
one of purely spiritual life. And yet, when he desires to show 
that the law of circumcision is universal and everlasting, he 
forgets his objection to the idea of immortals having bodies } 
and declares that the angels are all circumcised. 4 

These are only illustrations of many things in these books 
which make it impossible for us to suppose that the apocalyptic 
authors mistook their imagery for fact, made no distinction 
whatever between the sign and the thing signified, and had in 
their minds an unchanging picture of the coming Kingdom and 
the state beyond death. It is hardly credible that writers so 
able as these remained unconscious of their own contradictions, 
or that they would have permitted themselves such freedom 
had they attached supreme importance to the precise forms of 

1 Cf. Secrets of Enoch, 40 12 - 1S 7 1 ' 3 . 

2 Cf. Boole of Enoch, sec. I., with Book of Enoch, sec. V. 
a Cf. Similitudes of Enoch with Secrets of Enoch. 

4 Jub. 23 30 - 31 lo 27 . 


their imagery. Plato, in the Pkaedo, puts into the mouth of 
Socrates a long account of the future state as represented in 
Greek mythology its dark lakes and rivers, its prison-house 
of the damned, its purgatorial torments by lire. But he repre 
sents Socrates as saying at the end of it all : " To affirm 
positively that these things are as I have described them does 
not become a man of sense. But that something of this kind 
happens with regard to our souls and their habitations appears 
to me most fitting to be believed." l Now, it is not likely that 
the apocalyptic writers distinguished so clearly between the 
substance and the form of their teaching as Plato did ; but we 
suspect that, if they had been strictly questioned on the matter, 
they would have confessed, like Socrates, that " to affirm 
positively that these things are exactly as we have described 
them would not become a man of sense." 


1. The importance of this apocalyptic literature is, from 
many points of view, very great ; and its influence has been 
out of all proportion to its volume or to the excellence of its 
artistic qualities. 2 A great deal might be written, for instance, 
about the impression it has made on the literature of Europe. 
The great Latin hymns of the Church, the Dies Irae and the 
Te Deum, are informed throughout by apocalyptic inspirations. 
When Bernard of Cluny sang the glories of the future state 
his voice took the tones of the old Jewish poets, and the 
colouring of his song was theirs. Even to this day the hymns 
of Christian hope repeat the forms of Enoch and of Baruch. 
When Dante wrote the Divina Commedia he showed himself 
the greatest of the apocalyptic seers ; and he saw the realms 
of the other world in a light that streamed from a Jewish 

1 Phaedo, sec. 144. 

2 Greek essays in Apocalypse are inferior to Jewish even artistically ; cf. 
legend of Erus, in Republic. 


source. Milton would have composed the Paradise Lost after 
another fashion had the " revelation " books of Judea never 
been produced ; and his L//cidas, greatest of English elegies, is 
rich in apocalyptic symbols. The same influence is discernible 
in Tennyson ; as, for instance, in St. Agnes' Eve : 

"The sabbaths of eternity, 

One. sabbath deep and wide 
A light upon the shining road 
The Bridegroom with his Bride ! " 

Of peculiar significance to us in these times is the apoca 
lyptic note in the great Battle Hymn of the Republic : 

"He hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat, 
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat; 
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him ! be jubilant, my feet ! 
Our God is marching on." 

Not to be forgotten, also, are the apocalyptic lines of 
William Blake : 

" Bring me my bow of burning gold ; 
Bring me my arrows of desire ; 
Bring me my spear ; O clouds, unfold ; 
Bring me my chariot of fire. 
I will not cease from mortal fight, 
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, 
Till we have built Jerusalem 
In England's green and pleasant land." 

In view of all this it seems strange that many writers 
permit themselves to speak with contempt of the apocalyptic 
books. Surely there must have been great creative force, and 
many qualities of power and beauty, in a literature which has 
been able to make its voice heard in the sacred songs of so 
many centuries, and to originate poetic forms that were not 
despised by Dante or by Milton. 

2. But however this may be, the importance of these writ 
ings for the student of the New Testament and of Christian theol 
ogy is beyond all question. When one advances from a study of 
the Jewish books to the reading of the Gospels, his first im 
pression is one akin to consternation. It is startling to find 
that there is so little that is fresh in the figurative language of 


the Evangelists. And throughout all our sacred writings we 
discover an important strain of thought and expression which 
differs in no respect from the familiar features of Jewish 
prophetic tradition. Wherever we find, in the Christian 
Scriptures, spiritual realities described and future events 
predicted in an imaginative fashion : wherever we read of a 
visible coming of the Son of Man in His glory : wherever the 
drama of the Last Things unfolds itself in resurrection and 
judgment, in the reward of the blessed and the doom of the 
unrighteous : wherever we are told of the angel hosts, of the 
New Jerusalem, of the eternal fire, the outer darkness, and the 
vengeance of the Lord: wherever, in short, the evangelic 
message of retribution and redress is conveyed, not directly to 
the reason and conscience, but indirectly through the imagina 
tion, especially when there is prediction of sudden and violent 
happenings, we are in the presence of Apocalypse, and the 
messengers of the Gospel are speaking to the people through 
the old familiar symbols which had been commended to their 
hearts by immemorial tradition. 

Now, the value of this element in the New Testament 
cannot be questioned. It has proved its vitality throughout 
the ages of Christian life. It supplies the imaginative colour 
and form without which the Gospel would hardly have com 
mended itself to men of the time of Jesus, or maintained its 
hold on popular thought throughout succeeding generations. 
The universality of the appeal of Apocalypse is made clear by 
the remarkable fact that its literature was more popular among 
those early Christians who belonged to Gentile nations than 
among their brethren who were converts from the Jewish 
Church. And this power of appealing to the common mind of 
humanity is evidenced by the truth that our Faith still conveys, 
not only its doctrine of judgment, but its most intimate 
messages of assurance and hope in the terms of apocalyptic 
vision in the sayings of St. Paul about the rising from the 
dead, in the prophecies of "St. John the Divine," in the 
imperial word of Jesus, " I am the Kesurrection." l 

Nevertheless, this strain in the New Testament message 
1 John II 25 . 


has been the source of much perplexity, needless debate, and 
baseless dogmatising. And it is necessary to remind ourselves 
that the picturesque language of evangelic prophecy was 
originally designed to express the hopes and fears of a religion 
of a narrower and poorer content than ours, and was never 
capable of uttering the whole secret of Christian thought. It 
was a thing which Apostles and Evangelists had inherited, and 
were constrained to use wliethcr it accurately expressed their 
mind or no. It was traditional ; it was current coin. It wafi, 
therefore, capable of many meanings, and was in fact inter 
preted in many different ways. Thus, the early Christian 
teachers, when they used it, gained in power of direct appeal, 
but they lost of necessity in ability to convey a clear and un 
ambiguous message. Hence, they have created great perplexity 
for those in every age who have been ignorant of the conditions 
which limited the freedom of Apostolic utterance, or who have 
persisted in treating figures and symbols as if they were prosaic 
statement ; who have ignored the truth that a spiritual idea 
cannot be fully expressed under the form of a material image ; 
who have not been willing to recognise that Apocalypse is not 
dogma is the servant and not the master of thought. 

3. The teaching of Jesus Himself, as recorded by St. 
Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, supplies the strongest claim 
which Apocalypse possesses to be regarded as a thing of 
perpetual value. It created the forms in which our Lord 
expressed one aspect of His mind and purpose. It flourished 
in the atmosphere which was His native air. The note on 
which He began His ministry harmonised with it, as also did 
His saying to the disciples at the end " I will drink no more 
of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new 
with you in the Kingdom of God." 

We cannot, therefore, regard Apocalypse in an external 
way, with aloof, unfriendly eyes. That old world of picture 
and sign does not seem alien to us when we remember that in 
it Jesus was at home, nor its language foreign to us when we 
recall that it was the native tongue of the Kedeemer. We 
cannot wish that any of His authentic prophecies had not 
been uttered : since the servant is not greater than his master, 


nor the disciple above his Lord. And yet it is necessary in 
the case of Jesus, even more than of lesser teachers, to be on 
our guard against the vice of literal interpretation. No 
tradition, however well beloved by Jesus, could contain or 
limit Jesus. It could only supply the raiment of His thought 
and " the body is more than raiment." Its old bottles could 
hold but a little of the new wine, its coloured glass could only 
" stain the white radiance " of the eternal revelation. It 
would have required a new language to express Jesus Christ 
a language which He could not have spoken, nor His people 
have understood. Hence, it is certain that our Lord* must 
have been misinterpreted often in His use of the traditional 
forms. He must sometimes have given the impression of 
being much less original, and much more a child of His time, 
than He really was. And we may, perhaps, marvel that in 
the providence of God it should have been necessary for Him 
to think and to speak in terms so peculiarly liable to being 
interpreted in a literal and exaggerated way. But Jesus 
Himself was singularly indifferent to the danger of being 
misunderstood. His parabolic teaching was, of its very nature, 
almost as liable to this danger as His apocalpytic prophecies. 
And some of His sayings about the Son of Man and eternal 
life must have been a sore puzzle to simple men and women. 
But for these things He seems to have cared not at all. He 
gave to men the words that were given Him to speak ; and 
they that had ears to hear might hear. In this He was taught 
of His Father, whose purpose it was to make Himself known, 
not in one swift in- breaking of eternal light, but in a gradual 
process of revelation a process whereby men should come to 
understand, little by little as the ages passed away, what had 
been the true meaning of a life that was lived in Galilee, a 
death that was suffered on the Cross, and a voice that spoke 
a message which was traditional and yet everlasting. The 
" words of eternal life " are not words that are capable of being 
rightly understood all at once, nor even words that are of literal, 
immediate verity, but words that can be used by the Spirit to 
guide men slowly into all the truth that are " as the shining 
light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." 


4. There are thus certain difficulties created by the 
presence in the New Testament of elements that owe their 
origin to the Jewish " books of revelation " ; and of this we 
shall find abundant illustration in the course of further 
discussion. Much might be said, also, regarding the disturbing 
influence which Apocalypse has never ceased to exert in every 
department of Christian thought. The apocalyptic genius has 
always displayed a marked and aggressive individuality, and 
has not shown itself disposed to compromise with other factors 
in religious belief. Hence, it has hindered and confused the 
work of theologians in all domains of their activity. Even 
the doctrine of the Divine Nature has been embarrassed by 
the necessity of harmonising concrete, imaginative ideas about 
God, derived from ancient prophecy, with those more abstract 
conceptions which are cherished by philosophers. In like 
manner, the view of the Person of Christ that is founded on 
the old belief in the Messiah has been difficult to reconcile 
with that which has its basis in Greek and Hellenistic 
speculation. But, of course, it is the doctrine of the Last 
Things that has been most influenced, and therefore most 
disturbed, by the apocalyptic tradition. Rationalising modes 
of thought regarding Immortality, Judgment, the Kingdom 
of God, and future Retribution have always been very much 
perplexed by the need of recognising and conciliating those 
immemorial hopes and fears, so vivid, so picturesque, so vital, 
that were declared by Enoch, that colour the pages of sacred 
Writ, that have been so dear to the common mind in every 
age of the Christian Church. 

But, although these traditional elements in our faith may 
be a trouble to us as theologians, they are of immense value 
to us as Christian believers. Especially do they witness to a 
truth for which we cannot be too grateful the truth that our 
religion is not a system created by the abstract thought of 
theorists, but an historical faitli with its sources deep in the 
experience of mankind; taking its colours from the long 
travail of peoples, from the hopes and disappointments, 
victories and defeats of generations, from the " old, unhappy, 
far-off things " of Judah's age-long martyrdom. As the sign 


of the Cross is witness that our hopes of salvation are rooted 
in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus, so the apocalyptic 
forms are the symbols of things that were learned in pain and 
tested in many sorrows. They come to us by the hands of 
men who through long days of battle and stress were able to 
maintain a steadfast faith in God, and to hope to the end that 
the good cause would finally triumph and the Kingdom of 
the Lord appear. They are thus an heritage of great price 
and of manifold consecration. They belong to the inestim 
able boon of an historical religion. 


In concluding this outline of the Jewish " revelation " 
literature, we need do no more than reiterate the assertion of 
its importance for the student of Christianity. We cannot 
question the greatness of the influence which it has exercised 
on theology, partly for evil and partly for good. On the one 
hand, it has created some of our deepest perplexities, some of 
our most persistent misunderstandings. It has been the root 
also of millenarian speculations, Messianic dreams, inhuman 
superstitions, and fierce conceptions of future penalty. On 
the other hand, it has supplied many of the most tender and 
beautiful forms of Christian hope, and it has conserved for us 
ideas of eternal truthfulness. The Apocalypses, for instance, 
look for the triumph of good, and an earthly Kingdom of 
righteousness ; and this expectation of theirs we still cherish, 
looking, according to the measure of our faith, for the vindica 
tion of justice, and a condition of human society in this world 
that shall be in accordance with the gracious -will of God. 
They affirm, also, that the divine method contains elements of 
crisis and intervention and catastrophe, as well as of education 
and gradual development; and this affirmation of theirs is 
true to the experience of men as individuals and as nations. 
They assert, further, that history has a moral principle in it 
and leads on towards a moral climax ; they put their trust for 
future and final good, not at all in the merits of man, but 
wholly in the sovereign will of God ; they have a sure and 


certain hope of Immortality, and a fearful looking for of 
Judgment. And this their testimony must continue true and 
unshaken, in its substance and meaning, a vital element of the 
Christian faith and hope, as long as that faith remains, as long 
as that hope endures. Nay, it may well be that, not only the 
substance of the apocalyptic message, but its very forms as 
well may prove themselves possessed of a permanent fitness, 
an indestructible vitality. It cannot have been without reason 
that these forms were, according to the divine purposes, 
received by Jesus and His apostles through inheritance from 
the fathers; nor can we suppose that the Christian Church 
would have adopted them with such lively willingness, or held 
to them with so great tenacity, had they not been adapted in 
a peculiar way to represent and to conserve the ideas they 
contain. The Coming of Christ in His Kingdom, the Inter 
mediate State, the Resurrection of the Body, the cleansing and 
destroying Fires, the New Jerusalem, and the Beatific Vision 
of God, may be found to retain their place in the thought of 
Christian people, as pictures and signs than which we can find 
none fitter to fulfil their appointed purpose. They, at least, 
express with dignity and worthiness, and with the sanction of 
immemorial use, realities of the spiritual order which in their 
nature transcend our thought. 

Apocalyptic forms belong to the same order as sacrament 
and ritual, architecture, music and poetry, and share with 
these the invaluable gift of expressing religious faith without 
unduly defining it. And thus they have a meaning for the 
wise and understanding, while they are not without a message 
for the unlettered and the simple and the little child. For 
this reason they are peculiarly fitted for the use of the great 
community of the Christian Church, which embraces within its 
borders all sorts and conditions of men, all nations and tribes, 
all types of intelligence, all degrees of spiritual understanding. 
While dogmatic statements and logical definitions may enchain 
us and may divide us, the Apocalyptic Forms will always tend 
to set us free and to unite us under the banner of an ancient 
tradition will help us, through their large catholicity, to 
preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. 




THE Kingdom of God is the central thought of Apocalypse. 
Other beliefs Judgment, Kesurrection, Hades, Gehenna are 
subordinate to the vision of the City of God. It is true that 
these lesser conceptions are sometimes so emphasised in the 
Jewish books as to obscure the pre-eminence of the sovereign 
Hope. Nevertheless, they are really satellites and attendants. 
The Kingdom is the ruling planet in the sky. 

And yet, even this supreme idea is not clearly defined in 
Jewish thought ; nor are the various teachers at one in their 
presentation of it. In the " revelation " books we find the belief 
in the Kingdom expressed in very different forms, and diversely 
coloured by the religious, philosophical, and political outlook of 
each writer. It is an excellent rule to suspect all accounts of 
Jewish doctrine in proportion as they suggest symmetry, order, 
and logical coherence. 

These confusions and perplexities are due- mainly to the 
historical circumstance that the Kingdom conception arose at 
a time when the outlook of men was confined to this present 
world, and had afterwards to be modified so as to meet the re 
quirements of belief in a real personal immortality. In the Old 
Testament the hope of the Kingdom is expressed sometimes in 
a very lofty and generous way. It is predicted that Israel 
shall be set free, vindicated, and established, that the Gentiles 

shall be converted, and that all the ends of the earth shall see 



the salvation of God. Then will come a blessed era of universal 
well-being a time of peace wherein men shall dwell in brother 
hood, and their spears be changed into pruning hooks ; a time 
of religious light wherein all men are to know the Lord. The 
blessings of this golden age are to extend even to the lower 
creatures. Wild beasts shall raven no more, and the lion shall 
lie down with the lamb. The whole order of nature, also, will 
be so modified and transfigured as to be a fit environment for 
this glorious life tearless, painless, and without sin. 1 

This was a great conception, altogether noble, worthy, and 
simple ; and it never lost its place in the minds of men. But 
the growth of the belief in personal immortality complicated 
matters and introduced a disturbing element into the thought 
of the Kingdom. The doctrine of immortality solves many a 
hard riddle, but it undoubtedly creates problems of its own ; 
and this the Jews discovered. Their increasing faith in a state 
of rewards and punishments beyond the grave delivered them 
from the old difficulty of reconciling their belief in God with 
their experience of the inequality and injustice which op 
pressed this present life, but it perplexed their doctrine of the 
Messianic Age. It confronted them with the question What 
is to be the relation of the blessed dead to the Kingdom of 
God when it comes on the earth ? Are they to remain in the 
Unseen State, remote from their brethren, or are they to return 
to this world and have a share in the great consummation ? 
The answer usually given to this was that the saints would 
arise from the dead and enter with the living into the City of 
God. This was the natural solution. It was most fitting to 
be believed that those who had looked for the Kingdom in the 
days of their flesh would wish to return and rejoice in its coming. 
And so there came to be a generally received opinion that the 
Messianic State would include the dead as well as the living. 
But it must be confessed that this belief expressed itself at 
first in a form that was somewhat crude. The earliest view 
retained the traditional idea of the Kingdom, and expected the 
righteous dead to experience a second incarnation in order that 
they might be fitted to enjoy its citizenship. This conception 

1 See refs. in App. II. 


is found, for instance, in the apocalyptic prophecy which runs 
through chaps. 24, 25, 26 of Isaiah. In this very old writing, 
the Messianic woes and tiery judgments are descrihed. Then 
comes a vision of the Kingdom which God will establish in 
His holy hill of Zion. Finally, the blessed are called to awake 
out of sleep and arise from the dust in gladness of life. 
" Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust ; for thy dew is as 
the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." 

The same ancient view is expressed, with less religious 
elevation but in a more developed form, in the oldest section of 
the Book of Enoch. In this work the Messianic State is de 
scribed as one in which men eat and drink, marry and give in 
marriage, beget many children, and live a life of five hundred 
years, surrounded by peace and abundance, in a world of beauty 
and generous harvests. It is predicted, also, that the departed 
of Israel will arise out of Hades and receive a new body such 
as shall tit them to share again all the conditions of physical 

This conception, however, was outgrown by the more 
thoughtful. These came to feel that, as the condition of 
departed saints was already one of spiritual blessedness, so any 
Kingdom to which they could return must be first of all a 
spiritual state. Hence, in the Similitudes of Enoch, the King 
dom is conceived as a condition of religious communion with 
God and with the Messiah ; its citizens shall be clothed with 
light, and shall dwell in a transfigured and glorified earth. 
The author of the Book of Jubilees, going further, discarded the 
idea of a bodily resurrection, and did not expect the departed 
to share in the Messianic Keign. And the writer of the last 
section of Enoch transferred the scene of the Kingdom to the 
spiritual world. He taught that the earth would pass away, 
and that the righteous dead would awake from sleep in Hades 
and rise disembodied into the heavens. The righteous living, 
also, being transmuted into a spiritual likeness, would become 
as the angels of God and ascend to be for ever with the Lord. 1 

The Alexandrian Jews, again, either gave up the idea of 
the Kingdom altogether or thought of it as an earthly paradise 
1 For refs. see App. I. and II. 


in which departed saints would have no place. Thus, Philo 
predicts that the scattered Jews will be set free and return to 
Zion led by a supernatural Appearance, visible to the redeemed 
but unseeen by others ; a soldier Messiah, " warring furiously," 
will subdue their enemies; the lower creatures will become 
friends of humanity : and a state of universal joy and peace 
will appear. Men will there live long lives, and pass peacefully 
on towards death " or rather immortality." l Philo could not 
possibly entertain the idea of the departed having any lot in 
this Kingdom. They had passed at death to their native state 
of rapt communion with God. For them to experience resur 
rection and a new life on the earth would be humiliation and 
punishment, not reward or blessedness. Bodily life was an 
evil and a prison ; and those who had escaped from it returned 
to it no more. Thus the Kingdom, as conceived by Philo, was 
simply the consummation of earthly history, and had no 
relation to that heavenly state wherein the souls of the blessed 
behold the face of God. 

The Jewish literature thus contains four different answers 
to the question created by the faith in immortal life. The first 
of these is to think of the Kingdom as an earthly paradise, 
and to suppose that the departed will receive at the resurrec 
tion such a body as shall enable them to share in mundane 
joys. The second is to spiritualise the Kingdom in a somewhat 
indefinite way; and to say that those who are alive at its 
coming will have their physical frames changed into a spiritual 
likeness, while the righteous dead will be endowed with a body 
after the same fashion, so that all may be heirs together of the 
City of God. The third is to transfer the scene of the King 
dom to heaven, and to think of the quick and the dead as 
translated thither at the last day absent from the body but 
present with the Lord. The fourth is to keep the idea of the 
Kingdom separate from that of personal immortality ; and to 
conceive the former as a terrestrial state in which the departed 
can have no portion, inasmuch as they already possess a better 
life than any earthly empire can bestow. These four solutions 
of the problem are, however, confused and intermingled in 
1 De Execrat. 9, De Proem, et 1'oen. 16. 


many of the books; individual thinkers seem sometimes to 
hold one of them and sometimes another ; and the apocalyptic 
writers, as a rule, express no clear view as to the relation of 
the Kingdom to the unseen world. 

The Rabbis describe the Kingdom of God under three 
aspects : (1) as a thing already present wherever men are found 
who are faithful to the law ; (2) as the vindication of Israel ; 
(3) as a means of blessing to all mankind. 1 I believe it to be 
impossible to say how they related the doctrine of the Kingdom 
to that of immortality. Probably they tended in the main 
towards the view expressed by Philo ; but their thoughts on 
the subject were characterised by the same perplexity and 
changefulness as marked the whole Jewish doctrine of the last 
things. And the apparent confusion of their teaching was 
increased by the peculiarities of apocalyptic imagery, by the 
influence of changing political circumstances, and by the 
waxing and waning of the hope of a personal Messiah. 



Now, the influence of all this variety of thought is evident 
in the New Testament which, indeed, contains suggestions of 
all the different Jewish theories. The belief in the personal 
Messiah, of course, attained in the minds of Apostles and 
Evangelists a value it had never possessed before, receiving 
new tenderness, intimacy, and wealth of content from its 
association with the personality of Jesus. But, otherwise, the 
Kingdom idea is not more positively defined in our sacred 
writings than it is in Jewish books. There is no formal con-i 
sistency in the pictures of it ; and its relation, as an earthly 
state, to the heavenly Empire of God is not made clear. The 
outline of the whole conception remains vague, clouded, and 
variable, like that of distant hills against a changing sky. It 
is plain that, in the case of the Kingdom as of other apocalyptic 
1 Cf. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology t pp. 65-115. 


ideas, the Spirit of revelation was not concerned to alter exist 
ing forms of thinking, but was content to give them new 
religious value and to illumine them all with the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

Perhaps the best illustration of the indefiniteness that 
characterises the New Testament doctrine of the Kingdom is 
found in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Nowhere is the Kingdom 
idea more prominent than in this book; and yet it remains 
exceedingly elusive in its form. The author does not expect 
any earthly reign of the Messiah ; he looks for " the heavenly 
Jerusalem," " an heavenly country," a " city that hath founda 
tions, whose builder and maker is God." x Also, he expresses 
the expectation of the Parousia with deliberate vagueness 
" to those who look for Him " Christ " shall appear a second 
time without sin unto salvation." 2 In short, all that we know 
about this writer's belief regarding the Kingdom is that it 
signifies the fulfilment of all the desires, and the fruition of all 
the hopes, of faith. 

Now, this characteristic of the Epistle to the Hebrews 
cannot be ascribed to Alexandrian influence, since the apostolic 
Eirst Epistle of St. Peter, while it is suffused with the light of 
the near coming of Christ, maintains a similar reserve of tone, 
and speaks of the Kingdom as " an inheritance incorruptible 
and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven " 
for believers. 3 It is unnecessary, further, to remind ourselves 
that the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John are even more 
reticent than First Peter on this subject. In these writings 
the Kingdom is seldom represented as a thing that is to come ; 
and the hope of the Second Advent is expressed in the promise 
of Jesus to come again and to receive His disciples unto Him 
self, 4 and in the saying " It doth not yet appear what we 
shall be : but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall 
be like Him ; for we shall see Him as He is." 5 

On the other hand, the Second Epistle of St. Peter predicts 
that heaven and earth will be consumed by fire, and that there 
will appear " new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth 

1 Heb. 12 22 II 16 - 10 . 2 9 s8 . 8 1 Pet. I 4 - B . 

4 John 14 3 . 1 John 3 2 . 


righteousness." l The Apostle Paul, again, presents the King 
dom idea in several forms and in varying imagery. It is the 
present possession of belie vers " righteousness and peace and 
joy in the Holy Ghost." It is the Church, the Body of the 
Kedeemer. It is a Kingdom in a renewed world. And it is 
an universal dominion of God through Jesus Christ.* 

In the Apocalypse of St. John the element of discord is so 
increased as to defy any attempt at coherent interpretation. 
In this book the Kingdom is, now the Church, now a glorified 
earthly state, and now a spiritual inheritance. And the 
difficulties of its teaching are increased by the fidelity with 
which it follows the rules of apocalyptic art. The martyrs, 
for instance, are portrayed both as a triumphant host and as 
prisoners under the altar ; 3 and the New Jerusalem, though it 
is described as a material city, is lighted by no material sun 
shine, but by the spiritual splendour of God. 4 Also, it is said 
to exclude all that are without, and yet its gates are declared 
to be open all the hours in perpetual welcome. 5 Further, 
there is in the City a Tree of Life whose leaves are for the 
healing of the nations ; 6 and it is difficult to see what use this 
tree can serve, since those that are within the City are in no 
need of healing, and all the sinners who have escaped the great 
Destruction are denied admission to the place of blessedness. 7 

But they that are troubled greatly by things like these 
perplex themselves in vain, forgetting that symbolical truth is 
one thing and literal truth another. It passes the wit of man 
to present a many-sided reality in a succession of pictures that 
are all of one colour ; and every picture of St. John is faithful 
to an aspect of the Gospel. If he had believed it possible to 
describe the Kingdom with logical consistency he would have 
written an essay, and not an apocalypse. 

Thus many and thus various, then, are the forms of the 
Kingdom-hope in our sacred writings. It is a vision that 

1 2 Pet. 3 13 . 

2 Cf. 1 Thess. 4 14 - 17 , 2 Thess. I 5 ' 11 , 1 Cor. 15 20 ' 28 , Rom. S 18 ' 25 , Eph. I 3 " 14 , 
Phil. 2 8 ' 11 , Col. 1- 23 . 

3 Rev. 7 1J - n 6 s - 11 . 4 22 s . 5 21 25 ' 27 22 14 - 1B . 
22 :! . 7 21 8 21 7 etc. 



presents itself to the eyes of faith in many a different guise. 
Hardly has one view of it appeared than it dissolves and 
another takes its place. Yet in all its varied semblances it 
bears certain characteristics that never change. It is always 
securely established, incorruptible, dominating, beautiful. And 
it is always an heritage that has been purchased for us with the 
precious blood of Christ, who is ever its Ix)rd, its light and its 
glory by the grace of God the Father. We may apply to the 
New Testament vision of the Kingdom the words that Brown 
ing uses in speaking of the face of Christ. It 

"Far from vanish, rather grows, 
Or decomposes but to recompose, 
Becomes mv universe that feels and knows." 



Now, the perplexities which attend the interpretation of 
the Kingdom doctrine, both in the Jewish books and in the 
New Testament generally, assert themselves in an acute form 
when we come to consider the prophecies of Jesus as recorded 
by the earlier Evangelists. Our Lord's predictions of the 
approaching Keign of God, His account of Himself as the Son 
of Man, and His pictorial descriptions of the Second Advent 
all these present the apocalyptic problem in its most disturbing 
aspect. The questions which they raise are not of merely 
academic concern, but touch the vital interests of faith. The 
Gospel apocalypse is certainly marked by features of apparent 
discord ; and it suggests that our Lord entertained expectations 
which history has not fulfilled. Also, the imagination finds it 
hard to reconcile the picture of Jesus of Nazareth, in its grace 
and truth, with the vision of the terrible Messiah ; and it is 
difficult to feel that the Synoptic prophecies have any natural 
congruity with the sayings recorded by St. John, with teaching 
like that contained in the Parable of the Prodigal Son and in 
the Sermon on the Mount, and especially, perhaps, with the 


story of the Cross and Passion. It is impossible for us to 
regard the perplexities thus created with detachment or 
indifference. The words of Jesus are to us of paramount 
importance ; and nothing that might even tend to modify the 
Christian view of His supreme spiritual authority can fail to 
awake in the Church a keen and anxious concern. 

Outline of Gospel Apocalypse. 

(a) Now, there can be no doubt whatever as to the import 
ance of the Kingdom doctrine and prophecy in the Synoptic 
account of our Lord's teaching. Jesus began His mission 
with the message " The Kingdom of God is at hand." l He 
continued to speak of that Kingdom and of its coming through 
out the whole of His ministry. And He said to His disciples 
at the Last Supper, " I will drink no more of the fruit of the 
vine, until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of 
God." 2 The thought of that coming time of awe and glory and 
blessedness was the poetry and the inspiration of His life. 
He lavished the treasures of His imagination, and appealed to 
the simplest experiences of His hearers, to illustrate His great 
conception. Nothing was too high, and nothing too homely, 
to afford a parable of the Kingdom. He saw symbols of it in 
the springing corn, and in the tiny seed which grows to be a 
great spreading tree of hospitable shade. It was the Pearl 
of great price. It was the Banqueting Hall of plenty and 
welcome. It was the great Marriage Feast. It was the 
appointed place of recompense for the poor and the weak, and 
for all who lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. Many 
would come from the east and from the west and enter into 
its blessedness. It would be ruled by the spirit of service to 
one's neighbour and of filial trust towards God. Its law would 
be the law of love ; and self-forgetfulness, humility, and the 
childlike heart would be the conditions of attaining to rule and 
authority therein. 

(6) Such was the importance of the Kingdom idea in the 
teaching of Jesus ; and such the variety and wealth of form 

'Markl. 2 14 2B . 


in which it was expressed. Of course, a great deal of this 
doctrine is not in any way apocalyptic, either in substance or 
fashion. Much of it is simple and direct, expressed in imagery 
taken from nature and common life " one witli the blowing 
clover and the falling rain," one also with the common 
experience of humanity and the assured thoughts of religion. 
Still, it is impossible to evade the force of those utterances 
which are after the manner of the "revelation" books, and 
declare visions that are coloured with the most vivid hues of 
Apocalypse. Thus the sense of impending crisis which is so 
characteristic of Jewish prophecy finds expression often in the 
Gospels. Jesus speaks not seldom as if He feels Himself to 
be standing among things that are old and ready to vanish 
away. He sees the Galilean towns and the city of Jerusalem 
lying under the shadow of approaching doom. He declares 
with a stern sorrow that many are following the easy way that 
ends in destruction, while few are finding the narrow path 
that leads to the Kingdom of God. He is doubtful whether 
the Son of Man when He comes will find faith on the earth. 
He proclaims the approach of the Messianic woes fiery signs 
and portents, wars, famine, pestilence and earthquake. He 
prophesies the appearing of the Son of Man in the clouds of 
heaven with His angelic hosts. He tells of the throne of 
Judgment being set, and all nations standing before it ; of the 
condemned being cast into the outer darkness and into the 
eternal fire, and of the justified being called into the Kingdom 
prepared for them from the foundation of the world. He 
speaks of the blessedness of that Kingdom the joy of the 
Lord, the comforting, the feasting, the recompense. And He 
bids men watch for its coming, lest they be asleep or unpre 
pared when the Son of Man appears lest they may not be 
ready to welcome Him, or to endure His question, when He 
steals upon the world like a thief in the night, at an hidden 
hour, at even or at midnight, or at cock-crow or in the 

(c) Thus the prophetic teaching of Jesus, as presented by 
the earlier Evangelists, contains all the familiar features of the 
apocalyptic programme. No doubt, some elements in it may 


have been exaggerated under the influence of contemporary 
expectations and modes of thought ; but its authenticity is, in 
the main, guaranteed by the best documentary evidence. Also, 
its expression is sometimes so characteristic, so vivid, so brief 
and pointed, so touched with imagination and imbued with 
ethical meaning, as to leave little doubt that it is among the 
things which the early Church truly received of the Lord. 
The problem it involves is not that of determining the main 
outline of our Lord's predictive message ; it is the question of 
its interpretation. This latter presents a difficulty that has 
continuously occupied the attention of scholars for very many 
years ; and it would exceed the limits even of amateur audacity 
to approach its discussion with a light heart, or even a hopeful 
spirit. The very confidence with which it has been debated 
has made assurance difficult ; the ingenuities of the learned 
have obscured the prospect of any complete solution. 

Modes of Interpretation. 

() One thing, however, is evident ; we cannot solve the 
problem of the Gospel prophecies by the method of so-called 
"spiritualising." It is impossible to accept the view that 
the apocalyptic element in the Synoptics represents nothing 
that was really characteristic of Jesus. We cannot agree, for 
instance, that when He spoke of His Second Coming He meant 
to say that the impression of His life and sacrifice would 
produce its full effect only after He was gone ; or that, when 
He prophesied the Kingdom, He intended simply to assure us 
that certain moral and religious principles would prevail. It 
is, indeed, difficult to understand how this explanation of 
things ever satisfied any one. It is worse than unhistorical ; it 
is dull. It explains poetry by turning it into prose. It is like 
saying that when Shakespeare described the stars as singing 
like angels, he proposed only to remark that the stars revolved 
in an orderly manner. This mode of interpretation does, of 
course, achieve simplicity, but it is the simplicity of the 
commonplace. It does not blend the colours ; it washes them 
out. In place of the glowing imagery, the splendid paradoxes, 


of the prophet, it gives us plain and cool and placid meditation. 
It reduces to an abstraction that concrete hope, of many hues 
and forms, that shone in the vision of Jesus that was the 
romance of His life, and the joy that was set before Him in 
His death. 

(6) But, if we thus reject as insufficient the theory which 
practically excludes the Gospel Apocalypse from serious con 
sideration, there remains for our adoption the opposite view 
which attaches high importance to this feature in the records 
as representing a vital element in the mind of Jesus Christ. 
But, if we assent to this latter position, and agree that our 
Lord thought and spoke of things to come after the manner of 
the Jewish mystics, then it is well that we should do this with 
thoroughness and goodwill. We do not show thoroughness or 
goodwill in this matter if we say that Jesus was an apocalyptic 
prophet, and yet insist that He must have meant, when He 
spoke of the Eeign of God, just what we suppose other teachers 
to have meant ; since we know that the Kingdom idea had no 
dogmatic or uniform content either in the " revelation " books 
of Judaism or in the New Testament writings generally, but, 
on the contrary, took several different forms, and depended for 
its meaning on the individual genius of each writer. Again, 
we are not thorough in the application of our principle if we 
look for logical consistency in the imaginative teaching of our 
Lord; inasmuch as a study of the literature shows that the 
method of the Jewish prophets did not encourage or even 
permit that quality. In short, a really scientific interpretation 
of the Gospel predictions in the light of Apocalypse leads us to 
expect no dogmatic precision in the evangelic conception of 
the Kingdom, forbids us to limit the freedom and originality 
of our Lord's belief by reference to any supposed standard of 
contemporary thought, and does not permit us to be impressed 
or disconcerted by the discovery of apparent discords in the 
pictorial predictions of Jesus. The more we test the Gospel 
apocalypse by the data given us in works like the Enoch 
writings and the Eevelation of St. John, the more are we 
delivered from perplexity, the less are we disposed to literal 
and dogmatic exposition, and the better do we understand the 


freedom and wealth and beauty of the hope that dwelt in 

I propose then to illustrate this view by reference (1) to 
the difficulties that beset the strict eschatological rendering of 
the Gospel apocalypse; (2) to certain characteristics of Jeras 
which forbid us to identify His thought with that ofjLny 
Jewish school; (3) to those features of the records thernf jives 
which show the free and indefinite character of ouv Lord's 
belief as to the Kingdom of God. 

Difficulties of the " Eschatological, " Theory. 

The theory which interprets the Synoptic account of 
Jesus in the light of a dogmatic Conception of Apocalypse is 
not the creation of one thinLer, but has been developed 
gradually through the labour of many minds. It attains, 
however, to its full expression in the writings of Joh Weiss 
and Albert Schweitzer. 1 it may be well, then, to begin this 
section by combining in otne brief statement the main features 
of the construction presented by these two scholars. 

Jesus was, in the;ir view, the supreme prophet of the 
apocalyptic tradition, i He apprehended His Gospel in strictly 
Messianic terms, and; under the influence of a dogmatic pre- 
destinarianism. He shared the pessimistic standpoint of the 
Jewish thinkers ; arid the crash of hastening doom was con 
stantly in His eans. His prophetic mood was "gloomy and 
rugged," oppressed ! by " the shadow of approaching judgment " 
and "the thought', of the destruction of the world." 2 His 
mission was to prepare men for the approaching end, and to 
clear the way fo/r the coming of the divine Kingdom whose 
appointed ruler He Himself was. His general religious and 
moral teaching i^as a thing subordinate to His eschatological 
message, and evran out of harmony with it. His ethical doctrine 

1 Joh. Weiss, Di' Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Qottes (2nd ed.) ; A. Schweitzer, 
Quest of the Historical Jesus (English). 

2 Weiss, p. 135. 


of personal salvation was inconsistent with the predestiuariuu- 
ism of His prophecies, 1 and with His view of the Kingdom 
which was purely religious, without moral content, the " bare 
idea of a Eeign of God." The precepts of the Sermon on the 
Mirmt were simply expositions of the manner in which men 
shou d think and believe while they awaited the coming of 
the &kn of Man. 2 According to Weiss, Jesus had " an innate 
joy in nature and in the world of men," and it was at times 
when this natural characteristic of His mind prevailed over 
His prophetic' convictions that He uttered " those parables and 
maxims which possess an eternal validity for mankind of 
every age." 3 Thtjse precious elements in His teaching were 
thus a mere by-prcAduct of His ministry, and failed entirely 
to influence the prevailing tone of His message. At first He 
expected the Kingdom to" come during His lifetime; indeed, 
it is probable that when He \sent away His disciples on their 
preaching mission He looked ifor its appearing before they 
should have completed their works at the close of the harvest 
which was already ripening in tfye fields. 4 But this early 
hope was disappointed, and soon He Vcame to understand that 
something hindered the Advent of the jKmgdom. Weiss thinks 
that this hindrance was the unrepenWl sin of the people. 5 
Schweitzer supposes that Jesus believW the delay of the 
Advent to be due to the fact that the MeWianic woes had nofc 
appeared those troubles and sorrows Which according to 
tradition must precede the coming of thel^ 01 "^ ^ ufc > what 
ever the obstacle may have been, He set \iimself to remove 
it by the sacrifice of Himself. His voluntary submission to 
death was to procure redemption for the eli'ct, eifc her because 
it would be a propitiation for their sin or because through it 
He would take upon Himself, and endure in '^His own experi 
ence, the whole burden of the Messianic sorrows. He there 
fore set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalei 

mission of uttermost self-surrender for the at 
supreme good. He saw in the Cross the way t 

1 Schweitzer, p. 363. 
3 Weiss, pp. 134-136. 
6 Weiss, p. 201. 

Ibid. p. 3 
4 Schweitze 
6 Schweitze 

on a sublime 

ainment of the 
the Kingdom. 

p. 356. 

pp. 385-388. 


By the path of death He would go to the Father, and would 
return again in a little while to judge and to destroy the 
world, and to establish that state of blessedness, that Reign of 
God, which He should have purchased for His people with His 
precious blood. 

(a) Now, it is not to be denied that this construction is 
supported by many features of the Synoptic record. One 
must admit, also, that the theory, of which Schweitzer is the 
most thorough exponent, does emphasise elements in the 
character and work of our Lord that have often been forgotten 
the sheer force of His personality, His sense of authority, 
the immutable strength of His purpose. Also, it does 
conserve, in a kind of symbolism, much of the Evangelical 
faith, inasmuch as it asserts that Jesus was conscious of 
a supernatural origin and mission, that He set Himself 
to establish the Kingdom of God, and that He gave Him 
self in willing sacrifice that He might accomplish a great 

(b) But the difficulties that beset this interpretation, in its 
details and on its negative side, are certainly very great. 
Evidently it presents a self-contradictory portrait of Jesus 
depicting Him as a gloomy and rugged prophet, who never 
theless taught a doctrine of mercy and service ; a man who 
was great enough to change the history of the world, and yet 
so misread the signs of the times as to believe the end of that 
world at hand ; a high predestinariau, who thought to hasten 
the purpose of God ; l one who came to minister and give His 
life a ransom, but none the less expected to establish a 
Kingdom of love by means of destruction. This is a quite 
incredible account of Jesus Christ ; and it is incapable of being 
reconciled with many elements in His doctrine, and especially 
with the view of His person and teaching presented in the 
Fourth Gospel. 

(c) And, if this theory is open to criticism when regarded 
in general outline, further defects are revealed if we consider 
it as stated in detail by each of the writers I have named. 
It is to be noted, for instance, that Weiss describes the 

1 Schweitzer, pp. 368-369. 


prophetic, convictions of Jesus as opposed to His native genius, 
and to His most intimate thoughts regarding God and the 
world. He thus denies the harmony of the Saviour's religious 
experience, and depicts the mind of Christ as a kingdom 
divided against itself. 

As to Schweitzer's exposition, its disabilities are manifold. 
To begin with, this writer takes astonishing liberties with the 
historical evidence. For instance, he says that John the 
Baptist appeared at a time when apocalyptic prophecy had 
fallen into " silence " ; l in face of the fact that one of the most 
vivid predictions of the Parousia in the whole of Jewish 
literature was written by a contemporary of John and of 
Jesus. 2 Also, he speaks as if there had been only one Jewish 
doctrine of the Kingdom ; whereas there were several. And, 
further, he denies that there was any political colour in the 
Messianic expectation as expressed in Apocalypse, although 
there is clear evidence to the contrary in the Psalms of Solomon. 
But, apart from these little matters, he combines a continual 
claim to extreme scientific rigour with habitual concession and 
compromise. Thus, he affirms that Jesus always thought of 
the Kingdom as a thing to come, and yet admits that the 
Messianic consciousness of our Lord implied that the Kingdom 
was, in some sense, already present with Him in the world. 
And this is only an illustration of Schweitzer's failure to make 
good his claim to be the one consistent apostle of logic, What 
are we to make of a writer who maintains the attitude of 
Christian faith towards the Saviour ; but nevertheless teaches 
that Jesus discovered on the Cross that His visions had 
deceived Him and that the hope that had inspired His ministry 
had been mistaken after all ? But the final example of this 
author's inconsistency is afforded by the statement with which 
he closes his discussion. In this statement he contends that, 
while the conclusions he has already indicated are valid on 
critical grounds, they need not destroy the confidence of the 
Christian believer. Whoever will repeat in his own life the 
self-renunciation of Jesus will learn to know Him as He really 
is, and will attain a faith that cannot be shaken. Thus the 

1 Quest, etc. p. 368. z Ass. of Moses. 


truth of history is set in opposition to the truth of experience, 
and each individual is thrown back on his own subjective 
impressions as the ground of his assurance. We are to find 
in self-denial a means of escape from the negative results of 
science ! 

(d) Now this is, of course, a fragmentary and brief account 
of this critical construction of the Gospel. But it may suffice 
to indicate that the school which dogmatises Apocalypse fails 
of complete success. Its purpose is to show that the diffi 
culties of the evangelic records can be solved by the applica 
tion of a rigorous historical analysis. With this intent it 
assumes that Jewish thought had attained in gospel times to a 
definite doctrine of the Last Things. It then affirms that 
Jesus adopted this doctrine, and expressed it with decision and 
harmony in His later teaching. As a result of this view, it 
subordinates the more individual to the more traditional 
elements in our Lord's message ; and asserts that there was a 
rift in His thought, and that His prophetic convictions were 
not in accord with His moral and religious beliefs. Thus, it 
creates perplexities of a deeper and more radical kind than 
those which it seeks to remove; it leaves confusion worse 
confounded. And the root of its misfortunes is that it starts 
from an unhistorical basis. The Jewish expectation of the 
End was not dogmatic but prophetic and imaginative. Its 
conception of the Kingdom was not defined and uniform, but 
vague and many-sided and changing. Also, the imagery in 
which it was expressed was not harmonious in form and 
colour, but diverse and discordant. When we forget these 
things we attribute to Apocalypse a logical cohesion that is 
foreign to its genius that is not ancient but . modern, not 
Jewish but German. And the result is that we reap a harvest 
of amazement; and achieve a portrait of Jesus that is not 
recognisable either by history or by faith. 1 

1 Of course much of this criticism does not apply to Weiss so much as to 
later writers. Weiss does not himself insist strongly on the "dogmatic" 
character of Apocalypse. There is an elusiveness about his beautiful and 
suggestive work that renders strict interpretation difficult. But his exposition, 
on its negative side, is logically at one with Schweitzer's. 


Characteristics of Jesus tluat modify His Prophecies. 

1. His unique religious consciousness. But, in the second 
place, there are elements in the character and experience of 
Jesus which forbid us to identify His prophetic beliefs with 
those of any other teacher or of any Jewish school. The first 
of these, of course, is His unique religious knowledge, His 
unbroken filial communion with the Father. This is the 
supreme fact about Jesus. It constitutes His originality and 
His permanent claim on the devotion of mankind. In the 
light of it, therefore, we must interpret all His reported 
sayings. Especially must we regard His use of traditional 
forms as modified by it. But if we thus start from the 
consciousness of Jesus, and ask ourselves how the whole 
scheme of Jewish thought would present itself to Him, we find 
ourselves without the means of reply. It is sometimes 
assumed, indeed, that Jesus shared " the popular Messianic 
expectation of His time." But then we do not know what 
this popular expectation was ; and even if we did, it would be 
impossible to take for granted that Jesus shared it. The 
opinion of the vulgar is the worst possible guide to the beliefs 
of the wise. Besides, the Gospels afford clear evidence that 
our Lord was not " the unlettered peasant " of common 
tradition. This is shown by the accounts of His arguments 
with Scribes, by His reading and translating the Scriptures in 
the Synagogue, and by the traces of Rabbinic modes of thought 
that sometimes appear in His teaching. 1 Also, it seems quite 
certain that He was acquainted with the literature of 
Apocalypse. Evidently, then, it is not possible for us to 
assume that Jesus held the "popular" ideas about the 
Kingdom, whatever these may have been. 

Neither can we be confident that He was in accord with 
the opinions of any separate Jewish writer. How can we say 
that any one of those anonymous persons who composed the 
Enoch books was able to anticipate the mind of Jesus ? They 

1 Of. Job. Weiss, Paid and Jesus, p. 69. 


did not agree with each other; they were not men of first- 
class genius, either intellectual or prophetic. How, then, can 
we accept the best of them as the interpreter of Christ ? No 
doubt, He shared with them the general outline of a radiant 
hope; no doubt, also, He expressed Himself in the imagery 
that was theirs. But, beyond these common characteristics, 
we cannot feel any assurance that His thoughts were their 
thoughts. We know that it is the spirit within a man that 
gives meaning to the forms of his belief; and so it seems 
certain that no article of faith can have meant for our Lord 
just what it did even for the most religious of His countrymen. 
How shall we present to ourselves the world of traditional 
hope and promise as it lay in the serene light of the mind of 
Christ, a light that transfigured all things by a secret of its 
own ? We may surely say, at least, that ancient symbols and 
signs had for Jesus a significance other than they had ever 
possessed before. Even the Jewish prophets of apocalypse 
had a fine spirit of individuality and independence, and each 
of them imparted fresh meaning to his message according to 
the measure of his power. And we are plainly without 
excuse if we deny to Jesus a freedom that was exercised 
by these ordinary men. The only sure way to misunder 
stand Him is to limit Him ; and the only certainly mistaken 
theory is that which seeks to impose the bondage of common 
tradition on the most original personality in the history of 

Especially must we count it unreasonable to interpret the 
Messianic consciousness of the Saviour by ancient Jewish 
expectations, in such a way as to imply that these conditioned 
His inner life. It is not possible to suppose that His filial 
communion with God arose out of the belief that He was the 
Messiah, or that He expressed the whole religious content of 
His mind when He said to Himself, in the language of tradition, 
" I am the Son of Man. " l The Messianic idea was not great 
enough to contain Him. He embodied it, but He changed it ; 
combining it with the conception of the suffering Servant of 

1 On Jesus' use of title Son of Man, cf. Dalman, Words of Jesus, p. 241 ff. ; 
E. F. Scott, Kingdom and Messiah ; Charles, Book of Enoch (Appendix). 


the Lord, and enriching it with His own experience. His 
vision of God was the achievement of His own spirit, not a 
privilege that attached itself to His position in the hierarchy 
of souls. His fellowship with the Father conditioned His 
thoughts about the Kingdom and His supremacy therein 
created and informed His conviction that He was the Christ, 
the Son of the living God. The Messiahship was but the 
transparent lamp ; His individuality was the light that 
illumined it. Indeed, Christian faith has always discerned 
this truth. It has penetrated by a kind of intuition to the 
secret of His personality, and has found Him to be greater 
than the Christ, more human than the Son of Man, and more 
divine than the Lord of the Kingdom. Hence it is that the 
imagery of the Fourth Gospel has gradually come to have 
more religious value for it than the eschatology of the earlier 
records ; that the Good Shepherd, the Bread and Water of 
life, the Light of the World, the true Vine, the Eesurrection 
and the Life, seem to it more adequate symbols of Jesus than 
the picture of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven ; 
that Eternal Life is more to it than the Kingdom ; and that, 
more than the vision of a Second Coining like the lightning in 
the skies, it treasures the promise recorded by St. John 
" If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and 
receive you unto Myself " l 

2. His "optimism." It seems, then, that the unique 
religious knowledge and experience of Jesus must have given 
a newness of meaning for Him to the expectation of the 
Kingdom and Parousia a newness of meaning which we 
cannot measure or define, since it was incapable of being 
expressed in the traditional language which He used. But it 
is to be remembered, further, that one of the essentials of the 
apocalyptic spirit was absent from the mind of Christ. The 
Jewish books, as a rule, are permeated with a very gloomy 
temper of thought the only exceptions to this being the 
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarclis and the Books of Adam 
and Eve. The prophets of Apocalypse looked with sad, 
lowering, censorious eyes on the world which they inhabited. 

1 John 14 3 . 


They put no trust in the power of spiritual forces to redeem 
humanity, and they showed little tolerance, tenderness, or 
faith in their judgment of their fellow-men. They saw nothing 
around them but decay and death. Baruch expressed their 
attitude when he said : 

"For all the healthinesses of this time are turning into diseases, 
And all the might of this time is turning into weakness, 
And all the force of this time is turning into impotence, 
And every energy of youth into old age and consummation." 

This pessimism of the Jewish prophets was, indeed, the secret 
of their whole position. It was because they were utterly 
hopeless of the present order that they looked for its complete 
destruction in the day when the Lord should appear. 

Now, it is not possible to agree with those who think that 
the attitude and temperament of the Master were in harmony 
with this mood of thought. Spite of some sayings in the 
Gospels, we cannot agree to speak of " the pessimism of Jesus." 
No doubt, He saw that the Jewish State was hastening on 
towards disaster. No doubt, also, He believed that the world 
was largely under the tyranny of evil powers. He had a sad 
and stern sense of the moral peril that besets the life of men. 
He is rightly called the Man of Sorrows ; and there is profound 
truth in the saying of Pascal " Jesus will be in agony till the 
end of the world. No sleep for Him during that time." 1 
Nevertheless, the impression produced upon the mind by the 
personality and bearing of our Lord is one of great hopeful 
ness. It could not, indeed, be otherwise. He knew Himself 
man ; and He knew Himself one with God ; how then could He 
despair of mankind ? Edward Caird speaks in his Crifford 
Lectures of the " immeasurable optimism of Jesus " ; 2 and we 
can understand his use of the phrase. As we read the account 
of the Galilean ministry we feel ourselves in the presence of 
a spirit that is rich in hope as in mercy. All things seem 
possible in the light of His face; and it seems the merest 
unbelief to doubt the conquering power of goodness. Con- 

1 Vinet's Studies in Pascal, p. 80. 

2 Cf. Evolution of Religion, vol. ii. pp. 107-111. 


fidence in the ability of the forces of life to overcome disease 
and sin shines through His words and works; and He sees 
Satan fall as lightning from Heaven. Nothing is able to 
resist the touch of the life eternal that is in Him not demons, 
nor pain, nor weakness, nor death. He discerns the promise 
of the Kingdom in the eyes of little children, whose angels do 
always behold the face of the Father. In His attitude 
towards the world of humanity, also, there is little that 
suggests the gloomy prophet of judgment. He sees a pathos 
in the wandering lives of men ; they are to Him as sheep not 
having a shepherd. He finds spiritual possibilities in the most 
despised ; believes that the publicans and sinners may be 
made fit for the Kingdom of God, and that the lost may be 
restored. He reserves His censure for sins of arrogance, 
oppression, pretence, and cruelty, and has little to say in 
condemnation even of the offences that seem to us most 
shameful and hopeless. The Son of Man is come, He says, not 
to be ministered unto but to minister : and those to whom His 
service is given are the weak, the poor, the sinful, and the 

Now, nothing could be more alien than all this to the 
spirit of Jewish apocalypse. When He said to the woman 
who was a sinner, " Neither do I condemn thee : go, and sin no 
more," l and to another penitent, " Thy sins are forgiven," 2 He 
showed that a great gulf separated Him from all those who 
thought after the manner of Enoch. And this is a character 
istic of Jesus which has a most important bearing on our 
interpretation of those Gospel prophecies that indicate a 
promise to return to the world on a mission of destruction. 
Predictions of this kind, as expressed by the Jewish teachers, 
belong to a consistent view of things they pertain to the 
prevailing sense of impending catastrophe, which again arose 
out of a pessimistic temper of thought. Hence, our estimate 
of the likelihood that a purpose of destruction possessed the 
mind of Jesus depends very much on the degree in which we 
suppose Him to have shared the pessimism of His age. The 
more you are able to show that He looked upon the world 
1 John 8". - Luke 7*. 


with the eyes of the Jewish teachers, and that His ears 
continually heard the crash of the coming doom, the more 
likely you make it to appear that He expected the Parousia 
soon, and according to the Jewish manner. On the other 
hand, the more you emphasise the hopeful, gentle, universal 
element in His teaching and life, the less probable does it 
seem that He pictured His own Second Coming in the colours 
of flaming vision and as a swiftly hastening doom. Thus 
Weiss admits that there is something in the life of our Lord 
which does not suggest that He shared the gloomy thoughts 
of His countrymen those very thoughts out of which arose 
the expectation of a speedy end of things. But he attributes 
this element in the story of Jesus to times when He experi 
enced relief from the burden of His message, when the 
eschatological gloom of His thought lightened and the sun of 
God shone through the clouds. The optimism of Jesus was a 
passing mood ; His pessimism was the daily atmosphere of 
His thought. And it was in harmony with this latter 
dominant element in His belief that He predicted His speedy 
return to condemn the world and establish the Kingdom of 
God. 1 And it is evident that if we can accept this interpreta 
tion it will appear to us altogether natural that Jesus should 
have painted the vision of the Second Advent in the darkest 
possible colours. If, however, Weiss's view seems to us utterly 
incredible, we are left face to face with the old difficulty of 
accounting for the Synoptic sayings which speak of His 
immediate return in apocalypse of wrath and terror. We are 
compelled to ask ourselves again whether it is likely that He, 
being no pessimist, adopted an expectation which belonged to 
pessimistic thought, and that He who loved so well the world 
of men promised to appear in a little while for its destruction 
and for the establishment on its ruins of a Kingdom of the 

Now, this difficulty of reconciling the negative side of the 
Gospel apocalypse with the wide human sympathy and great 
hopefulness of Jesus, lends some weight to the suggestion that 
the early Church under the influence of eschatological habits 

1 Predigt, p. 134f. 


of thought may have exaggerated somewhat the force and 
definiteness of the Parousia predictions, and even in some cases 
have misunderstood their intention. It is true that this pos 
sibility is often discounted on the ground that the prophecies 
of the Messianic woes and the end of the world occur in the 
earliest documents, which date from u period before the crisis 
of Jewish affairs had begun to fill the minds of men with the 
sense of approaching fate. It is to be noted, however, that in 
the Assumption of Moses, which is older than any of the 
Synoptic records, the Consummation is declared to be at hand, 
and the sorrows and portents that are to attend the Parousia 
are stated in terms that resemble closely those of the Gospels. 
Also, one can see no reason for denying that Jesus may have 
foreseen the fall of Jerusalem forty years before it came to 
pass, and that some of His most vivid prophecies may 
have foreshadowed that tremendous event. Of course, we 
must agree that He foretold His coming again, and that He 
described this Second Advent as being appointed for judgment 
as well as for deliverance. But it is difficult to believe that 
He can have declared His intention to destroy all the world 
except a small company of the chosen. Such a prospect 
would have been congenial enough to the Jewish mind, in 
some of its moods, but it is almost impossible to harmonise 
it with the outlook of Jesus. And so it is altogether reason 
able to admit that the note of universal doom in the message 
of the Saviour was echoed with greatly magnified force by 
the mind of the early Church, during that period of tense 
and feverish emotion which preceded the close of Jewish 

But even if we were sure that Jesus said all the things 
recorded in the Gospels, and even if we were to affirm that all 
His prophecies applied to the end of the world, and were to 
interpret them in the light of current opinion, we would not 
be constrained to find in them any very rigorous import. 1 
Certainly we could not agree that our Lord declared anything 

1 The Jewish idea of what would really happen to the world in the Consum 
mation was, of course, as vague and variable as the conception of the Kingdom 


regarding His Second Advent that was inconsistent with His 
attitude towards the masses of men throughout His earthly 
ministry. "We know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ," 
His hopefulness and His benignity ; and this knowledge is 
founded on the impression made by His entire life and character. 
It is, therefore, more secure than any opinion we may hold as 
to the meaning of certain apocalyptic sayings in the Gospels. 
What precisely was in His mind when He predicted the great 
catastrophe and tragedy of the End, we cannot tell. His 
thought is obscured by the imaginative terms in which it is 
expressed terms that are capable of different interpretations. 
But we may be confident that His message of destruction and 
judgment, like His doctrine of the Messiah and the Kingdom, 
was in complete inner harmony with the divine sympathy and 
compassion which He always showed toward the multitude of 
men, and with His belief in the Fatherly care and love of God 
for every creature He had made. 

Testimony of the Records. 

I have thus sought to indicate two characteristics of Jesus 
which must have modified His prophetic outlook namely, His 
unique religious knowledge, and the hopefulness and catholicity 
of His mind. If we make due allowance for these we shall 
be led to adopt a somewhat agnostic view as to the precise 
meaning of His predictions ; at least we may refuse to identify 
His thought with any particular form of Jewish opinion. In 
accepting this conclusion, also, we do not depart from the belief 
that Jesus was the sovereign exponent of Apocalypse. Kather 
may we claim to enforce that idea with thoroughness and 
goodwill. It was of the essence of the apocalyptic tradition 
that it left room for individual liberty, and that it did not 
define its terms. And, therefore, it is reasonable to suppose 
that the supreme Master of it was supremely free, and that He 
expressed with completeness the imaginative variety of its 
genius. There remains, then, the task of showing that this 


interpretation of our Lord's prophetic message is confirmed by 
the testimony of the records. 

1. The Kingdom doctrine. And this is not an undertaking 
that presents any great difficulty, either in the case of the 
Kingdom doctrine or in that of the Parousia predictions. The 
belief that the Kingdom idea is expounded in a clear and con 
sistent way in the Gospels is quite unjustified. Any one that 
is in doubt of this has only to consider what he would say if 
he were asked to tell us what precisely our Lord's conception 
of the Kingdom was in its concrete form and relations. 

The difficulty of answering this question is indeed illustrated 
fully by the want of agreement among those who make the 
attempt. For instance, most readers of the Gospels will have 
no doubt that Jesus taught an ethical doctrine of the Kingdom 
that He thought of it as a state in which moral life continued, 
and men practised self-denial and mercy. And this impression 
seems abundantly justified by the qualities which our Lord 
required of those who would inherit the coming Age, by His 
assertion that the law of love would govern it, and above all 
by His doctrine of God. An ethical view of the divine nature 
would seem to imply a similar view of the divine govern 
ment. Yet some eminent authorities find reason to assert that 
the idea of the Messianic State, as held by Jesus, was purely 
religious and predestinarian without moral content, " the bare 
idea of a Keign of God." Nor can we say that this interpreta 
tion is without basis in the Gospels ; since it is evident that 
many of our Lord's commandments are directed to men sur 
rounded by evil and violence, and would find no sphere of 
fulfilment in an ideal state of things. Similarly, the Gospel 
records suggest that Jesus believed the Kingdom to be, in some 
sense, present in the world. This is the apparent teaching of 
the Parable of the Leaven, and is directly stated by St. Luke ; l 
and it is reasonable to say that if Jesus knew Himself to be 
the Messiah, even in the days of His flesh, He must have 
believed that the Messianic State was ideally come. The 
Kingdom could not be absent from the earth if its King was 
there. He carried it about with Him wherever He went, and 

1 Luke 17 21 . ' 


He realised it in His own perfect obedience. Yet many 
authorities whose opinion is worthy of great respect certainly 
teach that our Lord never thought of the Eealm of God except 
as a thing to come. 1 These are only illustrations of the con 
tradictory answers that are given by competent persons to the 
most elementary questions regarding our Lord's doctrine of 
the Kingdom. And surely it is fair to conclude that there 
can be no clear teaching where such diversity of interpretation 
is possible. 

Suppose, again, we ask ourselves which of the Jewish 
conceptions of the Messianic Age was nearest to the mind of 
Jesus, the answer is far from clear. It is evident that He did 
not think of the Kingdom as a purely heavenly state. He 
looked for a time in which the will of God should be done on 
earth as it is in heaven. 2 Was His hope, then, of the character 
which is expressed in the oldest of the Enoch writings the 
hope of an earthly Paradise, a state of material well-being, 
victory, and peace ? Or did it resemble, rather, the vision 
contained in the Similitudes of Enoch the vision of a spiritual 
Empire in a new world made after the pattern of Heaven ? 
To such questions no unqualified answer can be given, since 
some sayings in the Gospels support one view and some another. 
There is, certainly, evidence that lends colour to the more 
material interpretation. Promises of earthly reward and re 
compense are found even in the earliest documents ; 3 and the 
saying that Jesus will drink wine with His disciples in the 
Kingdom of God 4 does, in its - literal meaning, suggest the idea 
of a physical form of life. A like import, also, attaches itself 
to the prediction that the disciples will sit on twelve thrones 
to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 But, on the other hand, 
such a conception of the Kingdom is difficult to reconcile with 
our knowledge of the mind of Christ, and it seems definitely 
excluded by the saying that those who inherit the Kingdom 

1 Joh. Weiss's statement on this point is guarded (Predigt, p. 69 ff. ; cf. 
also Charles, Escliatology, pp. 371-378. E. F. Scott, Kingdom, and Messiah- ; 
also Moffatt, Theology of the Gospels, p. 49 f.). 

2 Matt. 6 10 . 3 Mark 1(P, Matt. 19 2a . 
4 Matt, 26 29 , 5 19 28 , 


are "as the angels in heaven." 1 It is also out of harmony 
with the general doctrine of the New Testament. 

The Gospels do, indeed, contain one description of the 
Kingdom that seems to correspond in its outline with that 
contained in the Visions of Enoch. The passage in question 
declares that many Gentiles will come from all quarters of the 
globe and will share with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the 
Kingdom ; while Jews, rejected because of their unbelief, will 
remain outside, and will gnash their teeth with envy at the 
sight of aliens enjoying a privilege that is denied to them. 2 
This account seems to contemplate a limited dominion estab 
lished at Jerusalem, having among its citizens saints that have 
experienced resurrection, as well as many persons gathered 
from all nations. But it is evident that this presentation 
exhibits elements that are plainly incongruous, and also that 
it does not harmonise with the universalism implied in the 
prayer " Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as 
it is in heaven." The reference to the Patriarchs may even 
suggest that the prophecy relates to the future state, inasmuch 
as it was commonly believed that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 
would receive the faithful dead. 

It appears, then, that the doctrine of the Coming Age does 
not assume one definite and harmonious form in the Synoptic 
Gospels any more than in the . other books of the New Testa 
ment. Jesus dwelt with fulness of illustration on the religious 
and moral aspects of the Kingdom as a state of complete 
harmony with the will of God, of perfect restitution and reward. 
But He does not seem to have declared any concrete picture 
of it, such as could be grasped in a single act of the imagination. 

2. Parousia predictions. But it is evident that this con 
clusion regarding our Lord's conception of the Kingdom must 
influence our interpretation of the Parousia predictions. His 
view of the Messianic Advent must have been conditioned by 
His doctrine of the Empire which it was to inaugurate. A 
definite and material idea of the Kingdom would harmonise 
with a literal and dramatic prophecy of its appearing. On the 
other hand, a more spiritual and ethical form of belief would 

1 Matt. 22. - Matt. S"' 12 , Luke 13 28 - M ; cf. En. 90 20 ' 36 . 


be likely to find expression in the idea that the Advent of the 
Golden Age might be gradual and " not with observation." 1 
And, finally, an indefinite poetic way of thinking about the 
Eeign of God would be reflected in the prophecies of its ap 
pearing. Also, one would suppose that the form in which our 
Lord hoped for the coming of the Messiah would depend a 
good deal on His conception of the Son of Man. A Messiah 
who was a Judge, Euler, and Avenger would fittingly appear 
in wrath and fire, heralded by earthquake and eclipse ; but a 
Messiah who had come to the earth not to be ministered unto 
but to minister, and who had attained His glory by sacrifice, 
might be expected to come again clothed in a gentler beauty 
not with terror unto destruction, but without sin unto salva 

This seems a reasonable view of matters, and it is confirmed 
by the early records which show that our Lord's prophecies of 
the Advent were in fact as varied as His presentation of the 
Kingdom corresponding now to one, and now to another 
conception of the Messianic State, and harmonising sometimes 
with the sterner and sometimes with the gentler view of the 
character and office of the Son of Man. 

(a) Even before we come to examine these prophecies 
separately, and to compare them with each other, we are 
perplexed by the difficulty of reconciling their general tone 
with certain elements in the teaching of Jesus. When taken 
by themselves they certainly suggest the idea that His mind 
was dominated and possessed- by the conviction that the end of 
all things was at hand. Yet there are features of His doctrine 
which imply that He did not feel this sense of approaching 
climax. The sweep and reach of His ethical demands, which 
call men to be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect, 2 
seem to require a long period of time for their fulfilment. It is 
remarkable, also, that when He counsels His hearers not to be 
anxious about the future, He does not enforce the lesson by 
reminding them that there will be no future to be anxious 
about does not say, " Be not anxious about the morrow ; for 
to-morrow the Lord cometh." This would have been a most 
20 . 2 Matt. 5 48 . 


powerful argument to have used if Jesus had been possessed 
by the conviction that the end was at hand. Yet He is content 
to base His appeal on a homely and familiar thought which 
implies that things will be in the days to come even as they 
have been in days gone by, and that the old pathetic human 
experience will go on repeating itself. "The morrow shall 
take thought for the things of itself : sufficient unto the day is 
the evil thereof." l This is a striking example of a strain in 
the Gospels which does not suggest a foreshortening of the 

One may refer, also, to those sayings which speak of the 
Ecdesia. There is no sufficient reason for rejecting the declara 
tion to Peter, " Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build 
my Church ; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against 
it. I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven : 
and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in 
heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be 
loosed in heaven." 2 In this connection we must remark, also, 
the institution of the Lord's Supper. Now this idea of the 
Church closely corresponds, in some respects, to that of the 
Kingdom. The institution of the Eucharist suggests the old 
belief that the saints would be fed at the table of the Messiah 
with mystical food ; and the saying, " On this rock I will build 
my Church," implies that our Lord thought of the Ecclesia as 
a thing to be established in the future, at the close of His 
earthly ministry. Also, the promise to Peter of the power of 
the keys points to the continuous exercise of a spiritual 
authority. And from all this it seems to follow that the 
Church was pictured by Jesus as, at least, an imperfect and 
preliminary form of the Kingdom a visible society in 
which He would be present by His spirit in the sacrament. 
But, if such was His conception, it is difficult to see how it 
could be harmonised in His mind with the belief that the 
advent of the Eeign of God was just at hand. It is much 
easier to reconcile it with the view that He thought of the 
Kingdom as already present with Him in the world and 
destined to reveal itself visibly, though not with completeness, 
1 Matt. 6 34 . 2 16 18 - 19 . 


after His death, in the Ecclesia, and to continue in that form 
until the fulness of the times was come. 1 

(&) But if the Parousia predictions are thus difficult to 
reconcile with other elements in the Gospel message, they are 
still more difficult to harmonise with each other. Some of 
these indicate that Jesus expected to return at a certain 
moment and in a physical manner that His coming was 
to take the form of a great event. On the other hand, St. 
Matthew's version of His declaration in presence of the chief 
priests describes rather a spiritual process, a thing that is to 
go on continuously in the experience of men. " Hereafter shall 
ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and 
coming in the clouds of heaven." 2 And this conception of 
the Advent would harmonise with those parables which liken 
the Kingdom to the slowly growing seed and to the leaven 
which gradually does its work, as well as with the saying, " The 
Kingdom of God cometh not with observation." 3 

Again, Jesus certainly speaks as if His coming is to be 
secret and hidden, like the entrance of a thief in the night. 


Men are to be carefully on the watch for it lest they miss their 
opportunity, lest the Master find them sleeping. And yet He 
predicts also that His advent will be unmistakable, open and 
apparent to all men, like " The lightning that cometh out of 
the east, and shineth even unto the west." 4 It is hardly 
credible that such opposite predictions could apply to a definitely 
conceived historical event. 

But perhaps the most perplexing of these apparent contra 
dictions appears in those sayings which speak of the time of 
the Second Coming. On the one hand, it is expressly declared 
that the day and the hour of the Advent are known to God 
only. " Of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even 
the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." 5 There 
is no saying in the Gospels that has more authority than this. 
It belongs to the primitive tradition ; and it is a confession of 
ignorance which must have been uncongenial to the temper of 

1 Cf., however, E. F. Scott, Beginnings of the Church, pp. 50-. r >6. 

2 Matt. 26 M (of. Moffatt's version). 3 Luke 17 20 . 
4 Matt. 24 27 . Mark 13 32 . 


early Christian faith. Nothing but the conviction that it was 
certainly uttered by Jesus could have induced the Evangelists 
to record it. It is, therefore, the dominant saying regarding 
the time of the Second Coming, and with it all other utterances 
must be reconciled. Yet Jesus is represented as promising to 
return within the lifetime of His own generation ; l and this 
although it is said that all nations must be evangelised before 
His coming. And the apparent meaning of these sayings, 
taken together, is the incredible idea that Jesus was granted 
knowledge in terms of generations but not of days and hours ; 
that He had power to promise His return within a certain 
number of years, but not to give any more definite assurance. 
Also, it is implied that He expected the whole world to hear 
the Gospel preached, in such a manner as would give it a real 
chance of changing all its thoughts and ways, within the space 
of a lifetime. 2 

There are thus real difficulties and apparent discords in 
the Synoptic accounts of our Lord's teaching, both as to the 
general conception of the coming Kingdom and as to the 
manner and time of its appearing. No critical analysis removes 
them. Even when all allowance has been made for the un 
certainties of tradition, we recognise something intractable in 
the discords of the evangelic prophecies. They refuse to be 
charmed away by the touch of a dexterous exegesis. The 
stones are too diverse in shape and substance to be builded 
together in any way, nor do they yield to the chisel of the 
mason, chisel he never so wisely. 

3. Inferences. What, then, is the inference which we must 
draw from this conclusion ? Not that Jesus was mistaken, or 
that He held eschatological beliefs and hopes that were really 
inconsistent with each other. The inference is, rather, that, 
as before indicated, He thought and spoke about the future 
according to the spirit and forms of that imaginative type of 
prophecy which is found in some of the greatest passages of 
the Old Testament, which was developed by the Jewish mystics, 
and which finds typical expression in the Apocalypse of St. 
John. There are two possible ways of presenting a niany- 
1 Mark 13 30 , Matt. 16 28 . - Mark 13 10 . 


sided religious idea like that of the Kingdom. The one is to 
state it in general poetic terms, avoiding all detailed expression 
this i.s the method of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The 
other is to portray each side of it in turn, in one vivid picture 
after another, and leave the task of harmonising to faith and 
to experience this was the method of Apocalypse, and of 
Jesus. If we accept this view with any goodwill, the discords 
of Gospel prophecy will not perplex us, nor shall we keep 
looking for dogma in a type of teaching which was careful to 
preserve a freedom of outlook. Apocalypse had a reasonable 
ness of its own, but it was not the rationality of logic. It was 
tolerant of the most opposing images and symbols, caring only 
that each of these expressed some truth of the spiritual order. 
The writings that embody its spirit resemble a picture gallery 
wherein the most dissimilar presentations of Nature hang side 
by side, all being welcome which worthily reflect genuine 
aspects of the world. No teacher using the forms of Apocalypse 
was, or could be, careful to display the second-rate virtues of 
the systematic mind. All that he could be expected to do was 
to see that each of his utterances was in itself an authentic 
message of truth. And the best illustration of this is to be 
found in the recorded words of Jesus. He was the greatest of 
apocalyptic prophets, in a more thorough sense than even the 
school of Weiss admits, inasmuch as in His predictive visions 
He expressed one aspect of truth at a time, and expressed it in 
a concrete form and in an absolute way, without regard to 
other features of reality, or any concern for logical consistency. 
Many of our difficulties arise from forgetfulness of this, from 
fixing our attention on the mere fashion of His sayings, and 
from confusing the truth of the spirit with that of the letter. 
Why, for instance, should we be troubled by the thought that 
the predictions of Jesus speak of the consummation as being 
" nigh, even at the door " ? The sense of immediacy was 
always characteristic of the prophetic mind, as is apparent 
in the case of Isaiah and other Old Testament teachers, as 
well as of the Jewish mystics. Just as a distant shore seen 
through a telescope seems close at hand, so the atmosphere of 
prophecy magnified and defined the vision of things to come, 


and brought them very near. When a prophet declared that 
an object of faith and hope was just about to appear, he really 
meant that he saw it with vividness and that its coming was 
sure. And this consideration does, I think, explain in large 
measure the note of imminence which certainly characterised 
many of our Lord's predictions of the Kingdom and the Second 
Advent. And similarly, most of the apparent discords of His 
eschatology may be explained by the peculiarities of the instru 
ment of expression which He employed. All His sayings, 
interpreted in the free spirit of apocalypse, correspond to 
realities and can be reconciled by faith. Suppose He said that 
the coming of the blessed time was to be gradual and hidden, 
yet also sudden and apparent what then ? Spiritual principles 
do work secretly : nevertheless they finally reveal themselves 
in vivid manifestations ; they are like brooks that run a long 
way under ground, but leap at last into the light. Suppose, 
again, that He taught both a moral and a material view of the 
Messianic State what then ? The Kingdom is a thing both of 
inward and outward life ; at once of the body and of the soul. 
Suppose, finally, that He did present the consummation some 
times in a light austere and exclusive what of that ? Judg 
ment and mercy are alike facts of the moral order, and the 
Coming of the Sou of Man is both for peace and for revolution, 
is a hope and also a fear. 

Constructive Statement. 

Perhaps we may express this view of our Lord's message 
in some such way as this : The mind of Jesus, in so far as it 
can be said to have belonged to any particular type, was of 
the mystical and poetic order. He conceived all reality, 
whether spiritual or moral, in terms of the imagination, and 
He saw things in direct prophetic vision. And this quality of 
His genius conditioned the manner in which He interpreted 
His own vocation and the hope of its fulfilment. He knew 
Himself to be invested with a supernatural authority, and to 
hold an unique relation alike to God and man, and to be the 
appointed Mediator of salvation of a perfect good for the 


world of men. This salvation, this ideal good, was apprehended 
by Him under the form of the Kingdom, the Eeign of God 
upon earth, the breaking in of the eternal order upon the 
world of temporal things. Of this Kingdom He believed 
Himself to be the appointed head the Son of Man, the Lord 
and Master. This He was already, in the sight of God and of 
His own soul ; and His Kingdom was present with Him wher 
ever He wrought mighty works, and wherever men fulfilled 
His law and shared His spirit. But the Kingdom was yet to 
come in its fulness in some great day of regeneration, and 
with it He was to be manifested in the glory of His power. 
But before that day could come He had a work to accomplish. 
It was necessary that He should perfectly affirm and fulfil in 
His own person that supreme law of sacrifice which He knew 
to be the only means of spiritual achievement, whether for the 
individual or for the race. That the Kingdom of Life might 
come, He must give Himself to death. That there might be 
redemption and healing for the sons of men, the Son of Man 
must be rejected, betrayed, and crucified, must drink the cup 
of mysterious woe that was given Him of the Father. 

That such was indeed the belief of Jesus regarding Himself 
and His mission, is attested by evidence that cannot be shaken. 
Of course, these convictions did not occupy His mind to the 
exclusion of other elements. He had a human life to live, a 
revelation of the Father to declare, and works of mercy to 
accomplish. He was conscious of no discord between His own 
natural joy in the world of. nature and of humanity and His 
vision of the Kingdom. All the elements of His manifold 
experience dwelt together in the harmony of a perfect faith. 
Nevertheless, the thought of the future, and of the means by 
which the advent of the Kingdom would be attained, was the 
dominant note of His earthly life ; and He conceived this 
thought with all its accompaniments under the familiar forms 
of apocalypse. These forms He did not criticise ; He was 
indifferent to the apparent contradictions they involved, 
They expressed for Him every element of the complete truth 
judgment, salvation, retribution, reward; the redemption of 
life iu all its concerns, physical and spiritual, individual and 


social. He was at home in a world of traditional imagery, 
which the light that shone from His own mind touched with 
an alien beauty, which His unique knowledge informed with 
eternal meaning. Of the precise significance which He 
attached to His prophecies we know only that it was such 
as was worthy of His perfect understanding of God and His 
measureless love for the souls of men. 

It is quite possible, indeed, that He never had any definite 
conception of the fashion in which the Kingdom would realise 
itself in the world ; and was content to leave this matter in 
the hands of God, and to declare such aspects of it as were 
revealed to Him in flashes of insight, in visions and signs. He 
disclaimed knowledge of the day and hour of the Consumma 
tion ; and it may well have been that He did not seek to know 
in what guise His promises would be fulfilled after what 
manner He would come again, or in what outward appearing 
the City of God would manifest itself to mortal eyes. Jesus 
made no mistakes ; no hope He inspired was vain ; somewhere, 
some time, every prophecy of His will be found to be justified, 
and every picture He drew, to have its counterpart in reality. 
But we cannot be sure that He sought in the days of His flesh 
to distinguish between the form and the substance of truth, or 
to harmonise the various aspects of His message. The condi 
tions under which the sovereign purpose of good would 
accomplish itself in the relations of space and time may have 
been among the secret things that were known of no man, nor 
of the angels, nor of the Son, but of the Father only. 

But, while all this may be said with truth regarding our 
Lord's belief, in its historical aspects, it is well to remind 
ourselves that His faith and hope were but the unique and 
supreme expression of an universal religious assurance. What 
is the Kingdom of God, after all, but the higher world of 
white ideals, of broad spiritual expanses, of clean thought and 
generous service, of just and steadfast vision, of the loving fear 
of God and the reverent love of men that world which all 
men behold sometimes when the clouds break, of which some 
high souls are the constant citizens, though most of us know 


it only in those rare hours when almost we are what we would 
hope to be. This heavenly state, this home of our ideals, is 
the source of all our light. In it are treasured the perfect 
types of all good things that can be known to any man, or be 
embodied in any society or in any Church or in any Age of gold. 
No faith, no race, has any exclusive right in it ; it has always 
been the motherland of all the faithful. What matters the 
name by which we call it the New Jerusalem, the Realm of 
God, Eternal Life ? What matter whether we speak of it in 
the language of vision as the Heavenly Zion coming down from 
on high, or in the language of ethics as the Chief Good ? It is 
the same whatever it be called, however it be conceived, in 
whatsoever terms it be described. It is always in heaven yet 
always on earth, ever present yet ever to be. To religious 
men, it is always the City of God ; to the Christian, its Messiah 
is Jesus, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The expectation 
of its perfect coming is the assurance of a measureless good for 
the individual and for the race, and the certainty of the triumph 
of God in His redeeming purpose through Jesus Christ our 



Now, the view of the New Testament doctrine on this 
subject which I have thus sought to illustrate is supported by 
the later developments of Christian thought. It is true that 
there has arisen in modern times a type of theology that seeks 
to interpret all the tenets of our Faith in terms of the Kingdom 
idea, which it thus employs as a dogmatic category. But this 
system is apart from the main current of tradition. The 
Church has never defined its belief in the Eeign of God ; but 
has held it in freedom of spirit, and has taken it for the 
symbol of many shining hopes. The Kingdom has always 
meant, for believers, the Church and also something wider 
than the Church the good Cause, the purpose of righteous 
ness which God has in view for the world. It has also signified 


the promise of the return of Christ at the last day. And, 
again, it has represented that incorruptible and undefiled 
inheritance which is reserved for the faithful beyond the gates 
of death. Thus the historical faith has preserved the imagi 
native variety of New Testament teaching. It has not 
endeavoured to harmonise its thoughts on this great theme, 
any more than Jesus did ; but has been content like its Master 
to entertain a vision of manifold good, and to express it in the 
concrete forms and many colours of Apocalypse. 

In ancient Christian thought the Ecclesia is the visible 
Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom, as a thing that is to come, 
is the Ecclesia triumphant and glorified and in manifest 
communion with the saints in heaven. St. Augustine, stand 
ing amidst the ruins of the ancient order the imperial city 
fallen, and the Koman Empire crashing to destruction around 
him displayed a divine prophetic genius when he directed 
the thoughts of men to the eternal City of God, the great 
community of the faithful, which had been in the beginning, 
was still and ever would be the indestructible witness to 
things spiritual and everlasting, the inviolate home of souls. 
This City had been standing over against the earthly Kingdom 
of mortal things ever since evil appeared in the universe. It 
had embodied itself in the company of the Patriarchs, in the 
elect and chosen People, in the Church of Christ. It was the 
new Jerusalem, continually coming down from heaven because 
continually supported by grace from on high. It must endure 
through all the coming and going of empires, and rising and 
falling of powers and dominions, because founded on the 
immutable decree of God. And it would enter at last into 
final and manifest victory when He should appear, who was 
the blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of 
lords. There is nothing that so attests the greatness of 
Augustine as his ability to proclaim this confident message of 
hope in the midst of a generation whose hearts were fainting 
for fear because the end of all things was come. It was an 
heroic faith that was able to say in such a time as that So 
passes away the glory of the world, but so passes not away the 
glory of the Kingdom. 


Of a like nobility with the message of Augustine, also, was 
the great medieval conception of the Holy Eoman Church 
and the Holy Roman Empire, embodying together the complete 
Lordship of Christ over the whole life of man. According to 
that ideal the Pope was to be the visible representative of 
Christ in things spiritual, the Emperor in things temporal : 
and these two together were to subdue all the world into one 
dominion of the Crucified. It was, no doubt, an impossible 
programme, but a splendid vision ; and, like Augustine's 
conception of the City of God, it was a genuine development 
of old apocalyptic hopes. It was true, as the Church of Rome 
has been true throughout, to the mystical, imaginative tradi 
tions of Jewish revelation. It embodied, in an enriched and 
universalised form, the ancient vision of an Empire in which 
the eternal order should become manifest, and the perfect 
righteousness visibly appear. 

Akin to such conceptions, also, and in the true apocalyptic 
succession, are political speculations like those of Dante, 
pictures of the Ideal State like Bacon's Atlantis and More's 
Utopia, elusive dreams like that of the Holy Grail, social and 
evangelical enthusiasms, and that divine and generous dis 
content which inspires the heroes of humanity. Luther, 
amid the grim battles of the Reformation, spoke again the 
very language of Augustine, and of many an older prophet, 
when he declared : 

" These things shall vanish all ; 
The city of God remaineth." 

It is along such lines as these that we must seek for the 
true historical expression of the ideals that were contained in 
the New Testament prophecies of the Kingdom. When our 
Lord predicted the Reign of God on earth He did not have in 
His mind a fellowship of good men scattered all over the 
world, having no actual relations with each other and bearing 
no external marks of kinship. He thought of something 
visible and corporate something that signified well-being in 
the whole of life, outward and inward, physical and spiritual ; 
something more like to a perfect state than to a dispersed 


multitude of righteous people, resembling a Church rather 
than a dominion ; a great family of the Father rather than a 
mere Kingdom, which is after all but a chilly home for the 
souls of men. Schweitzer speaks truly when he says that 
Jesus set Himself to translate Apocalypse from words into 
facts. Where others had dreamed about the Kingdom, He 
determined to make it a reality in the world, by prayer and 
sacrifice and ministry, by death and resurrection, by the divine 
compulsion of love. And it is not by the way of abstract 
thinking that we are to serve ourselves heirs to His concep 
tion of the Kingdom. It is rather by social effort, by the 
strengthening and purifying of the Church, by common 
worship and sacrament, by the nurture of the devout life, by 
all those endeavours and visions which make the eternal order 
to appear in this transitory world, that men show themselves 
apostles of the Kingdom of God according' to the mind of 

The idea of the Parousia, also, like that of the Kingdom, is 
essentially an imaginative and spiritual form. It belongs to 
the vision and poetry of faith. We need not be concerned to 
answer very definitely the question What do you mean by 
the Second Advent? If we cherish the hope of a visible 
appearing of the Son of Man, no one can deny us our right to 
such an expectation. We believe that God intervened in the 
affairs of men once when Jesus came ; and who shall say that 
He may not intervene again after another fashion ? If, again, 
we cherish no such hope, but believe simply that a time will 
surely come when the Lordship of Christ shall be universally 
owned in spirit and in truth, no one can say us nay. The 
Church has held its belief in the Parousia in varying forms 
throughout the ages. The thought of the Second Coming was 
to the early Church, as has been said, " as some great eastern 
window that burns and shines in unearthly radiance and 
gorgeous hues in the splendour of dawn." x Succeeding 
generations have thought of it, now as near at hand and now 
as far away ; have conceived it sometimes in a literal, some 
times in a spiritual, sense ; and individuals have thought about 
1 D. S. Cairns in Students' Movement. 


it according to their varying moods and habits of mind. But 
the hope itself has been treasured as a precious possession in 
all the centuries. It is expressed in the songs and prayers of 
the Church universal. It is in Augustine's City of God, it is 
in the Imitation of Christ, in the Te Deum, in the Apostles' 
Creed, in the hymns of Bernard and Luther. It appears in 
every Liturgy and in every book of devotion and in every 
celebration of the Eucharistic Feast. It is, therefore, part of 
the permanent heritage of Faith, to be variously held in the 
liberty of the spirit, but never in any wise to be denied. 
Whatever our school of thought may be, whatever our manner 
of belief, we can all sincerely unite in the prayer of the 
Advent Collect, that we may be enabled to " cast away the 
unprofitable works of darkness and put upon us the armour of 
light, in the time of this mortal life," in which our Lord Jesus 
Christ " came to visit us in great humility, that in the last 
day, when He shall come again in His glorious majesty," we 
may " rise with Him to the life that is immortal." 





THE Jewish ideas of the Resurrection, Judgment, and Inter 
mediate State are really, as we have seen, part of the Kingdom 
of God conception. This is illustrated by the fact that those 
of the " revelation " books in which the Messianic hope is most 
vivid and strong are also characterised by specially clear pre 
sentations of the Rising-again, the great Assize, and the regions 
of the Underworld. 1 

1. Resurrection. -- The belief in Resurrection was, for 
obvious reasons, allied in a peculiarly intimate way with the 
Kingdom doctrine, and was determined as to its form by the 
manner in which that doctrine was conceived. Men who took 
an earthly view of the Kingdom held a material conception of 
the Rising-again. Those, on the other hand, whose thoughts 
about the Age to come were spiritual, cherished a corresponding 
form of the resurrection hope. Originally, the Resurrection 
of the Just was simply a reincarnation to a new life on a 
glorified earth. But later it experienced the development 
which culminated in the sublime doctrine of St. Paul. The 
further idea, that not the just only but all men would arise 
from the grave, grew out of the earlier, more limited, belief by 

1 For Jewish teaching on these several themes, see refs. in App. I. ; and for 
comparison with N.T. doctrine, see App. II. 



a quite logical movement of mind. If justice required that 
departed saints should be recalled from Hades that they might 
have a portion in the Kingdom, it also demanded that the 
unrighteous dead should be summoned to the earth to share in 
the great debacle of the heathen world. 

2. Judgment. But this belief involved, again, the notion of 
the great Day of Reckoning, when the multitudes of the living 
and the dead were to have declared to them their final destiny. 
The innumerable hosts were to stand before the Judge of all, 
and the righteous were to be called, with the redeemed Israel, 
into the Kingdom ; while the armies of the ungodly, with their 
kings and their mighty men and their great lords, were to be 
cast into the Pit prepared for the devil and his angels. This 
was the earliest form of the Jewish belief in the Last Judg- 


ment; and the apocalyptic doctrine on the subject always 
bore traces of its origin. It never identified itself altogether 
with the idea of personal responsibility, nor was it mainly 
concerned with the destiny of individuals. Its interest was in 
the issue of moral history as a whole, not in the fortunes of 
this man or of that. There are no portraits of separate faces 
in the visions of the great Assize. Apocalypse painted its 
pictures in broad outline and with a big brush, and it thought 
of men as being judged in the mass not by their private 
record, but as members of parties and nations. It always 
stood for the great truth that the world moves on to a moral 

Thus, Resurrection and Judgment belonged to the hope of 
the Kingdom of God. The pictures of them which we find in 
the Jewish books are part of the pageantry, the pomp and 
circumstance, of the coming of the Messianic State", but the 
ideas themselves are logical consequences of the belief that 
history is to culminate in a golden Age of retribution and 

3. Hades. To this same logical necessity we owe the 
doctrine of the Intermediate State. If the coming Dominion 
of the Lord was to include the dead as well as the living, then 
it was evident that departed souls were, in the meantime, in a 
state of waiting. Disembodied, and experiencing imperfect 


forms of joy and pain, they were expecting in Hades the sound 
of the last trump which should call them up, to pass by 
resurrection and judgment into the perfect blessedness of the 
Kingdom or the tmmingled sorrows of Gehenna. 

Now this Jewish doctrine of the Intermediate State is one 
of considerable theological importance ; and it is necessary to 
consider it with some care for the sake of the light it sheds on 
the belief of the Apostolic Church. The New Testament 
writers say so little about the matter that we are compelled 
to seek for information as to their opinions in the national 
literature. In the absence of express evidence to the contrary, 
we may assume that their ideas were those of their time and 

(a) The original belief of Israel was that the souls of men 
descended after death into Sheol, which was a condition very 
like the Greek Hades, though it was seldom pictured by the 
Hebrew mind with the vividness and poetic power that we find 
in the writings of the Greeks. 1 Sheol was a state of existence 
that was, in some aspects of it, but little removed from death 
cold and shadowed, without joy or grief, voiceless and empty 
of hope. There was no retribution there for sin, and no reward 
for virtue, no praise of God and no communion with Him, no 
development of character, no fear and no expectation. There 
the wicked ceased from troubling and the weary were at rest. 
The moral history of a man was at an end when he went to 
dwell in that shadowy land of ghosts, that colourless dwelling 
of disembodied souls. 

(6) Such was the older Hebrew doctrine of the Future 
State. Nor had it entirely lost its hold on the Jewish mind 
even in the time of Christ. The powerful party of the 
Sadducees retained the ancient idea of Sheol, and looked for 
no reward or punishment beyond the grave. This latter 
position is expressed in the Book of Sirach, one of the greatest 
of Jewish writings, composed during the second century B.C. 
It suggests no hope of any immortality beyond that of the 
influence which a man leaves behind him in this world. It 
teaches that there is neither penalty for sin nor reward for 
1 Of., however, Isa. 14 9 ' 18 . 


virtue in the place whither a man goeth. "Thanksgiving 
perisheth from the dead as from one that is not." "Weep 
gently for the dead, for he has found rest." 

(c) It is evident, also, that the old belief in Sheol continued 
to influence the thought even of those who adopted the 
doctrine of a true immortality. One can see, for example, 
that they never thought of Gehenna as a condition of continued 
moral life, in which character went on developing itself, but 
merely as a state of punishment. Gehenna was just Sheol plus 
torment. It is probable, also, that the tendency which the 
Jewish mind always showed towards the idea of conditional 
immortality is to be attributed to their ancestral belief in 
Sheol. That belief led them to think of the wicked as destined 
to a state of moral nonentity; and the conception of moral 
non-existence readily passes over into that of actual extinction. 

(d) But, however this may be, there can be no doubt that 
very many Jews of our Lord's time had come to think of Sheol 
as a state intermediate between death and judgment. In the 
Book of Enoch we find a very elaborate description of this 
Underworld. It is there divided into two parts a dwelling 
of the righteous, and an abode for the wicked. Each of these,, 
again, is subdivided ; the righteous who have suffered greatly 
in this world and deserve, therefore, a better compensation in 
Sheol, are separated from those who have enjoyed a prosperous 
life on earth and thus have earned a lesser recompense ; and 
conversely, the wicked who have been punished during this 
mortal existence enter an a.bode of less suffering hereafter, 
while those who have hitherto escaped retribution inherit a 
prison-house of more bitter chastisement. 1 Thus the old con 
ception is profoundly changed. It has become an intensely 
moral idea. Hades has now a real place in the spiritual 
history of a man. There the just and the unjust together 
await, in earnest expectation, the final Judgment and its 
solemn issues. 

(e) If we ask ourselves whether the countrymen of Jesus 
entertained the hope that deliverance might be found in 
Hades, the answer is not clear. One would not expect refer- 

1 En. 22. 


eiices to this subject in the Apocalypses, as it belongs to the 
question of individual destiny with which these books had 
little concern. Their common teaching is that men experience 
in Hades foretastes of their ultimate fate, that as they die so 
they appear before the Judge at last. At the same time, the 
importance of intercession is constantly magnified in these 
books ; and it is evident that great difficulty was felt in setting 
any limit to the efficacy of prayer, whether offered by angels or 
by men, for the living or for the dead. It is true that some 
apocalyptic writers affirm strongly that such prayer does not 
avail after the Judgment, but the very emphasis with which 
this assertion is made would suggest that it does avail until 
that great day. Also, it is significant that in the Book of 
Enoch intercession is said to be the perpetual office of the 
Archangel Gabriel. 1 We are told, moreover, that Enoch 
interceded for the fallen angels; and this indicates that no 
dogmatic objection was taken to petitions for the lost. 2 
Further, in the Books of Adam and Eve it is written that 
Adam through the intercession of the angels was committed 
to purifying punishment until the end of the age, that he 
might be rendered worthy of a glorious resurrection. 3 In 
Second Maccabees, also, we learn that Judas caused prayer and 
sacrifice to be offered for the souls of his men who had died 
in sin. 4 This statement is of great importance, since Second 
Maccabees is founded on an older work and thus embodies a 
persistent tradition. It is incredible that such a story would 
have been told about a great national hero if the idea of 
prayers for the dead had been alien and unacceptable to the 
Jewish mind. So that, altogether, it cannot be said that even 
the popular literature of Judaism is without indications of a 
hope that reached beyond the grave. 

(/) The Rabbis did not distinguish between Hades and 
Gehenna. But many of them believed that punishment in 
the place of fire would, at least in the case of many, last for 
only a limited time. It is in conformity with this belief that 

1 En. 40. 

9 En.. 12-13; also, Secrets of Enoch, IS 7 . 

Fit. Ad. et Eve, 48 1 ' 8 . 12 38 - 45 . 


we find in the Talmud some distinct assertions that prayer 
avails for the dead, and that the Jewish prayer-book contains 
a petition for the departed soul which begins thus " O Lord 
and King, who art full of compassion, in whose hand is the 
soul of every living thing, and the breath of all flesh, who killest 
and makest alive, who bringest down to the grave and bringest 
up again, receive, we beseech Thee, in Thy great loving-kind 
ness, the soul of who hath been gathered unto his 

people." The substance of this prayer, though not its present 
form, is very ancient, and some think that it may have existed 
even in the time of Jesus. Of this latter point, however, there 
is no proof ; though we may admit that the teaching of the 
two great Rabbinic schools which at that time dominated the 
Synagogues would have been friendly to such a practice of 
devotion. 1 Clearly, men who taught that the period of future 
punishment would, in some cases, be limited, and who believed 
intensely in the value of intercession, could have had no 
objection, in theory, to petitions being offered for souls in 

This is all that we can say with any assurance on this 
subject ; but it is enough to forbid the dogmatic assertion that 
the possibility of salvation beyond the grave was unanimously 
rejected by the Jews of New Testament times, or that they 
were at one in definitely denying that prayers availed for 
the dead. 


Introductory. Such, then, was the history of, the Jewish 
doctrine of immortality, and such the opinions held among 
the fellow countrymen of Jesus at the time of His coming. 
We may conjecture that the Jewish Christians of the first 
generation continued to hold the traditional faith regarding 
the fate of the departed. The great change wrought by 
Jesus in the outlook of His disciples upon the future life did not 
consist in an altered dogmatic belief as to the Last Things, but 

1 Cf. Daily Prayer-Book, etc. , pp. 323-324, also pp. ccxxxi-ccxxxii. 


rather in an enrichment and glorifying of the ancient forms. 
Especially were the old beliefs transfigured by their association 
with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every thought of the 
future was, for the early Christians, simply part of their 
thoughts about the risen Master. They looked, as their 
fellow countrymen did, for the Coming of the Messiah, the 
Judgment, the Kesurrection. But the Messiah they expected 
was the returning Jesus ; the Judgment they awaited was in 
His hands ; the Kesurrection they hoped for was one like His 
own ; the unending blessedness they believed in was unending 
communion with Him. It was Jesus that made the difference 
for them. The Intermediate State and all the great Events 
of the Coming Age remained in their faith as they had 
inherited them ; but they had all received new content and 
meaning for their hearts since they had come to trust in One 
who had the keys of Hades, who had lived and died and was 
alive for evermore. 


1. New Testament doctrine. The idea of the Insurrection 
occupies a far more prominent place in the New Testament 
than it does in the Jewish books. In the latter it is one 
among several co-ordinate forms ; but in the classical writings 
of our faith it holds a position of unique religious splendour, 
through its association with the victory of Christ. The thought 
of it is the master-light in which men see all things clearly. 
In the view, especially, of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Evangel 
is essentially a gospel of the Kesurrection; and throughout 
the whole New Testament the Easter message is the word of 
wonder that makes all things new. And yet it is not possible 
to deduce from the sacred writings one clear and consistent 
doctrine of the Kising from the dead. 

(a) On the one hand, the Apostolic teaching on this 
subject corresponds closely, in some respects, to that of Jewish 


Apocalypse, and exhibits the same variety of form. It is 
probable, as we have seen, that popular Christianity took over 
from popular Judaism the primitive belief that the dead 
would be endowed with new bodies resembling closely in their 
character the earthly house of this tabernacle. This view is 
suggested in St. Luke's statement that the risen Jesus " did 
eat " in the presence of His disciples. 1 But the sacred writers 
were no more bound by the terms of the ordinary belief than 
were the Jewish mystics. There may be found in the New 
Testament as many different ways of conceiving the Resurrec 
tion as of describing the Kingdom. A spiritual view of the 
matter is implied in the saying " They that are accounted 
worthy to obtain that Age and the Resurrection . . . are equal 
unto the angels." 2 Yet the idea of physical resuscitation 
seems involved in the prophecy " All that are in the graves 
shall hear His voice, and shall come forth." 3 And again, the 
Pauline doctrine suggests the thought of the transmutation of 
the material into the spiritual " It is sown a natural body ; it 
is raised a spiritual body." 4 The one thing certain, from this 
point of view, is that while the Apostolic writers may express 
somewhat varying views as to the nature of the Rising-again, 
they had no doubt whatever as to the Fact. 

(&) On the other hand, the New Testament conception of 
the Resurrection from the dead is not so closely associated as 
is the Jewish with the idea of the Kingdom of God. It is 
possible to show that each apocalyptic writer did try to adapt 
his doctrine on this subject, to the form in which he held the 
Messianic hope. But it is not so in the case of the Christian 
teachers. Rather is it plain that Apostolic thought tended 
to depart from the tradition which regarded the. Rising-again 
as the door of entrance to the Messianic Kingdom. They 
believed that Christ had risen from the dead; for them, 
therefore, resurrection was not only a part of their hope for 
the future, but a part also of their belief in the living Saviour. 
Hence it became for them more and more the symbol of 
personal immortality. Moreover, there appears in our sacred 

1 Luke 24^ (possibly an interpolation, but cf. Acts 10 41 ). 

2 Luke 20 35 - 3S . 3 John S 28 - . 4 1 Cor. 15 44 . 


books a highly imaginative type of thought which conceives 
the rising from the dead as a present moral experience, equal 
to conversion. This form of teaching has no doubt its parallels 
in Hellenistic writings ; but, as expressed by the Apostles, it 
has its root in the doctrine of Jesus that men must die to live, 
and that " whosoever will lose his life shall find it." l It is 
elaborated fully by St. Paul and St. John. The former 
declares that Christians have been crucified with Christ and 
have also risen with Him. 2 In like manner, St. John loves to 
dwell on the thought that the hour of resurrection " cometh, 
and now is." 3 Thus both these teachers describe resurrection 
as a part of present experience ; and in doing so depart from 
Jewish practice and from' the standpoint of apocalyptic 
prophecy. This peculiarity of theirs, no doubt, adds greatly 
to the beauty and suggestiveness of their spiritual teaching, 
but it does not help us to define their eschatology. 

This phase of thought is indeed so strongly marked in the 
Johannine writings as to excite suspicion in some minds that 
their author, under the influence of Philo, had given up belief 
in the Resurrection. They think that the saying, " They that 
are in their graves shall come forth," is either an interpolation 
or a mere concession to popular belief, or is perhaps due to a 
certain traditional element that lingered in the mind of the 
Evangelist, though it was out of harmony with his personal 
convictions. But surely if St. John had disliked the idea of 
the Resurrection he would not have told the story of Lazarus, 
nor been at such pains to show that the risen Lord possessed 
a real body. Also, it seems plain that if he had shared Philo's 
notion that embodiment was a humiliation of the spirit, he 
would not have said that " the Word was made flesh." There 
is really no sufficient reason to suppose that St. John ever 
departed from the general faith of the Church regarding this 
great matter. 

(c) This figurative use of the resurrection phraseology, 
however, does render it difficult to say whether the Apostles 
agreed with those Jewish writers who confined the privilege of 
Resurrection to the righteous, or with those who extended it 

1 Matt. 16 26 . 2 E.g. Col. 3 1 ' 3 . 3 John S 25 . 


to all mankind. Certainly, it does seem as if the thought of 
St. Paul and St. John implied the conclusion that only 
believers would rise from the dead that, as none but those 
who were in Christ experienced the process of spiritual 
resurrection in this world, so none but they could have any 
part in that rising-again which was to be the crown of the 
regenerate life beyond the grave. And yet one suspects that 
the general Apostolic eschatology, especially St. Paul's hope 
of an Universal Kingdom of God, implies some kind of 
re-embodiment for all men. The Apostles believed in a 
Judgment Day wherein all were to appear before the throne 
of God ; and it is not likely that they entertained the 
grotesque imagination of an assemblage, consisting partly of 
ghosts and partly of fully embodied personalities. The uni 
versal Judgment seems to involve the universal Resurrection. 

(d) But, whatever view one may take of this difficult 
question, it is undeniable that the New Testament seldom 
speaks of the Resurrection except as it concerns the regenerate, 
the heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The experience awaiting 
the unregenerate in the day when the trumpet should sound 
and the dead should be raised, was not a matter which engaged 
the minds of Evangelists and Apostles. Their thoughts were 
filled with the vision of the glory that awaited the redeemed 
in the great Day. In so far as they considered at all the 
meaning of the rising out of Hades for the unregenerate, they 
probably thought of it as an appearing for judgment in vivid 
consciousness, and in fulness of personality. Such a wretched 
and sorrowful thing they could not hold to be worthy of the 
name resurrection. That great word was associated in their 
minds with the triumph of their Master over death ; it was 
the symbol of the most glorious and sacred fact in history. 
It stood for the most profound experience of the Christian 
life, and for all the brightness of the Christian hope. How, 
then, could they have it in their minds when they thought of 
the multitudes of the impenitent standing, sullen and miserable, 
before the throne of God ? 

() The New Testament, as we have seen, does not commit 
itself to any definite theory of Resurrection on what may be 


called its physical side. It teaches that men are to be endowed 
with some sort of habitation, that the life of Heaven is not to 
be the life of disembodied spirits. But as to the nature of 
that new temple of the soul, it has nothing to say beyond 
picture and speculation. The Apostle Paul speaks of a 
spiritual body which is related to this material frame of ours 
as the living wheat is related to the dead seed ; he speaks of 
" this earthly tabernacle ;> being dissolved and our receiving in 
its place " a building of God, an house not made with hands, 
eternal in the heavens " so that we are not to be " unclothed, 
but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life." J 
And this teaching of St. Paul represents the highest expression 
that has ever been given to the Christian hope. No doubt, 
different minds will always attach different meanings to the 
confession " 1 believe in the Resurrection of the body." But 
the substance of that confession is vital to the catholic faith 
is, indeed, that which distinguishes the peculiarly Christian 
view of immortality. 'When we say that we believe in the 
bodily resurrection, we profess our conviction that all which 
enters into the being of a man here shall have something 
corresponding to it in the life hereafter : that nothing of our 
personality shall be lost, but that all of it shall be transmuted 
into something familiar yet new, finite but deathless. 

2. Dogmatic difficulties. It is true that we are often 
invited to recognise that the Kesurrectiou idea is incredible, 
beneath the attention of the modern mind, part of the cast-off 
garments of faith. But the grounds on which we are asked to 
make this admission are not so convincing as one might expect. 
The theological Hector is prone to employ such epithets as 
" obscurantist," " superstitious," " reactionary," and so on. But 
these are innocuous terms, and express nothing more than an 
ecstasy of disapproval. Strong language of this sort might, 
perhaps, be justified were it directed against the notion that 
the body, after it has suffered corruption, will rise again out of 
the grave. But belief in the Resurrection is not to be 
identified with this crude and popular form of it ; though even 
this has been of great value as a symbol of the truth that 

1 2 Cor. 5 1 ' 4 . 


personal identity is preserved beyond death. It seems a 
forcible thing to say that " rising-again " must refer to the 
body that as the body alone goes downward at death so it 
only can be said to " come up " again. But Jewish thinkers 
did not recognise this piece of logic, nor did the Apostle Paul, 
nor need we. Those who are troubled by such reasoning have 
forgotten the facts of history, and fail to remember the vague 
and poetic nature of the apocalyptic forms. They are leaving 
out of sight the truth that thinkers as early as the authors of 
the Book of Enoch held the faith of the Resurrection without 
affirming the resuscitation of tin's mortal body. 

But, in any case, the conception of immortality that is 
symbolised by resurrection is perfectly credible. Even the 
idea of Reincarnation is not irrational, as is evidenced by the 
fact that it was held by Plato. Indeed it is, on speculative 
grounds, as defensible as any other theory of the future state. 1 
If the soul has been embodied once, it certainly may be again ; 
and one feels, in reading Eastern literature and the writings of 
modern theosophists, that the thought of a succession of lives 
under bodily conditions solves many hard problems and 
explains many perplexing facts. The main objections to it are 
that it fails to preserve a real continuity of personal experience 
from one life to another, and that it condemns the soul to a 
prolonged, if not a perpetual, bondage to the law of birth and 
death. But the doctrine of Resurrection differs widely from 
that of Reincarnation, though it belongs to the same order of 
ideas. It asserts simply that souls will experience hereafter 
something analogous to embodiment, on a higher plane of being 
something that shall conserve the fulness of the human 
personality. It thus asserts the continuance of individual 
self-consciousness beyond the grave, and affirms that men " will 
wake and remember and understand." Also, it declares that 
a man can die but once, and that, having suffered the dis 
solution of the flesh, he is henceforth free from the bondage of 
decay. In these respects it is speculatively superior to the 
doctrine of Reincarnation ; and it presents difficulties only 
when we seek for an unattainable precision of thought, and 
1 Cf. Archer Hind's Phnedo, Introduction. 


ask ourselves how and when the resurrection will take place. 
It is often objected that the idea of the Rising-again is 
materialistic ; but this argument would be more impressive if 
we knew what matter is, or had reason to suppose that it can 
not assume a guise other than that which it presents to us in 
this earthly life. And so one is not disposed to admit the 
unreasonableness of this ancient belief, in the substance of its 
meaning. On the contrary, the alternative idea of a dis 
embodied existence exceeds all that is conceivable. The notion 
of a mind without an organ of expression, of a soul without a 
local habitation, is a mere rational abstraction, and is unable 
to support itself by any appeal to imagination or to experience. 


1. New Testament doctrine. (a) The New Testament 
teaching about Judgment presents the same characteristics as 
its doctrine of Resurrection. In its exposition of the subject 
we find the same variety of statement, and difference of aspect 
and standpoint. Just as Resurrection is sometimes spoken of 
as the privilege of the righteous, sometimes as the lot of all ; 
sometimes as a moral process and spiritual experience, and 
sometimes as a great coming Event: so Judgment is now 
presented as a thing to befall the wicked only, 1 and again as a 
trial which all must face ; 2 now as a matter already accom 
plished, 3 and, again, as the great Day of Reckoning which is to 
mark the end of the world. 4 Also, while Judgment is generally 
said to be in the hands of Christ, it is occasionally described as 
the direct act of God. 5 

These so-called contradictions are, however, of small import 
ance and represent little more than varieties of standpoint, 
different angles of vision. It is not surprising that Judgment 
should generally be described as in the hands of Jesus, yet in 

1 John 5 M . 2 1 Pet. 4 8 etc. 3 John 3 18 . 

4 Rev. 20 11 ' 14 . 5 Heb. 12 211 . 


some passages as directly enforced by God, since all things, 
according to the New Testament, are of the Father through 
the Son. Nor need we suppose that the manner in which the 
Apostles keep expressing the idea that the judgment is a 
process always going on casts any doubt on their belief in the 
last Assize. All the supreme objects of religious hope and 
fear are recognised by the sacred writers as facts of present 
knowledge, as well as things that are to be looked for in vivid 
appearing hereafter. The Kingdom is present, and yet it is to 
come ; the Eesurrection is a matter of daily experience, yet it 
awaits men beyond the grave ; and, in like manner, Judgment 
is already taking place, 1 and yet it is to be expected. Men are 
always being tested and tried, and their deeds are writing 
themselves from hour to hour on the records of the soul. 
Nevertheless, there is a great Day that is to " break in fire " ; 
and " we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ." 2 

(b) One is conscious, however, that it is extremely difficult 
to interpret with completeness the Apostolic doctrine on this 
subject. All that we may say about it is qualified by the 
impression that the ancient belief in the Last Eeckoning was 
profoundly modified by the Gospel. The new knowledge that 
had come through Jesus Christ, the vitalising of the whole 
moral world which had been accomplished by His spirit, 
disturbed inherited conceptions of the Judgment more than 
the early Christians were able to express, or even fully to 
realise. This is especially evident in the writings of St. John, 
whose mystical type of faith transcended all definite forms. 
Thus he tells us that they who dwell in love dwell in God ; 
and so are enabled to have " boldness in the day of Judgment," 
since " perfect love casteth out fear." 3 Evidently this is a 
doctrine which really transmutes the old idea of the last Assize 
into something that is new. And it is the expression of an 
undertone of New Testament teaching which must always be 
kept in mind when we speak about its prophecies of the Day 
of wrath and revelation. 

(c) Twofold aspect of Judgment. The Roman theology 
distinguishes clearly between the judgment of the individual 

1 John 12 31 . - 2 Cor. 5 10 . 3 1 John 4 14 ' 19 . 



at death and the great Reckoning which is to mark the end of 
the world. It cannot be said that the New Testament makes 
this formal distinction ; rather does it leave the whole con 
ception in the vague and imaginative state which is proper 
to its apocalyptic origin. Nevertheless, it is convenient to 
separate in our thoughts the idea of an universal Reckoning, 
which belongs to a world-view of things, from the expectation 
of individual judgment, which pertains to personal religion. 
We may claim, also, that these two aspects of the matter are 
both presented in our sacred books. 

(d) Universal aspect. As to the New Testament teaching 
about the universal Judgment little need be said. It is 
expressed in the imaginative terms of Jewish prophecy, and 
belongs to the doctrine of the Kingdom of God. It is depicted 
sometimes as with a brush that has been dipped "in earth 
quake and eclipse," but more often in sombre colours and with 
austere reserve of tone. But the substance of it was always 
implicit in the apocalyptic message. The essential idea that 
is symbolised by the picture of a Great Assize wherein the 
dead, small and great, stand before the throne is really involved 
in the belief that the human race has a corporate life of its 
own, and that its history is moving towards some moral end. 
Just as all the spiritual strivings and sufferings, victories and 
defeats, experienced by the individual are part of a develop 
ment which must issue at last in a definite state of character, 
so all the travail and effort of Humanity belong to a process 
of evolution which moves towards an appointed goal towards 
an End wherein the true nature of all its history shall be 
made plain. Lord Acton has called history " the conscience of 
the Eace," and it is in conformity with this view that we 
expect history to culminate in a great Day of moral manifesta 
tion, wherein the conscience of the Race shall declare itself, 
wherein the truth of things shall be once for all affirmed. 

(e) Personal aspect. But this aspect of the Judgment, in 
which it appears in its true apocalyptic guise of a great world- 
event, is not the one which is mainly emphasised in the New 
Testament. The Christian teachers departed from the 
apocalyptic standpoint very decidedly in their treatment of 


this subject. They maintained, indeed, the old belief that the 
Most High had appointed a day wherein He would judge the 
world ; but they were chiefly concerned with the thought that 
every man must give account of himself to God, that each 
separate soul must at last " be made manifest " 1 in the light 
of the truth, in the shining of the face of Christ. And the 
remarkable thing is that they thought of this experience as 
awaiting the redeemed as well as the lost. The Apostles, 
indeed, speak of it chiefly as a prospect of awe and dread for 
the believing soul. St. Paul may be said to dwell almost 
continually under the shadow of Judgment. In one remark 
able passage he describes it as a purgatorial experience in 
which Christian men shall be " saved, yet so as through fire." 
St. Peter expresses the same thought of a dreadful ordeal in 
the saying, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall 
the ungodly and the sinner appear ? " And these sayings, no 
doubt, represent fairly the attitude of the Christian mind in 
New Testament times. Wonder is often, indeed, expressed at 
this characteristic of Apostolic thought. St. Paul especially 
is held to show great inconsistency in declaring that " there is 
no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," 3 and at 
the same time expressing a fear of the Judgment ; and it is 
thought necessary to explain that this latter characteristic of 
his mind was due to a lingering remnant of his Jewish belief. 
But some better solution of the difficulty must be found than 
this, since it was by no means congenial to Jewish thought to 
regard the Judgment as a prospect of dread for the righteous. 
Kather did it tend to think of the Last Day as the final 
vindication and triumph of the just. The truth is that the 
alleged inconsistency of the Apostolic teaching on this matter 
is rooted in the realities of the moral life. If it is true that 
men are justified by faith, it is also true that personal responsi 
bility is an unchanging fact of the spiritual order. If Jesus 
taught that the penitent were received by the Father with a 
free and simple welcome, He also declared that men must give 
an account for every idle word. 4 The logic of the religious life 
is not the logic of the understanding ; and the Christian mind 
1 1 Cor. 3 10 " 16 . : 1 Pet. 4 18 . Rom. 8 1 . 4 Luke 15 n , Matt. 12 s ". 


always continues to combine the assurance of faith with the 
awe of judgment aiid the fear of God. 

Indeed, the difficulty of interpreting St. Paul's doctrine on 
this subject does not connect itself so much with the idea of 
salvation as with that of perdition. His view of the last 
supreme Crisis is almost purely ethical, and implies that all 
souls will be brought to recognise their own spiritual state. 
And it is easy to understand how such a moral experience as 
this should occur in the history of the redeemed, but hard to 
see how it can be the prelude of endless death. If the verdict 
of the great Assize were a physical thing, like the deliverance 
of a criminal court, and meant simply that the condemned 
were to be sent away by force into material torment, there 
would be no difficulty in seeing how a hopelessly evil character 
could experience judgment. But if the sentence of the 
supreme Tribunal means something moral, and involves the 
wakening of the conscience and the opening of the spiritual 
vision to reality, then it does seem that no man utterly lost 
can stand at the bar of God. Only a creature that remains 
essentially good can possibly recognise a spiritual decree, 
assent to the justice of a moral condemnation, or be made 
manifest in his own eyes before the Throne of the Highest. 

2. Theological interpretation. Such, then, are the two 
aspects of the Judgment idea. On the one hand, it is a great 
world-event; on the other hand, a personal experience. No 
doubt it is difficult for us to combine these two thoughts, or 
even to form any clear idea of their relation to each other. 
Nor could it, indeed, be otherwise, since in speaking of these 
things we are dealing with symbols of unknown reality, and 
with forms which are but as gleams of light on the wide 
moorlands of our ignorance. Some help towards an under 
standing of this matter will, however, be afforded if it be 
remembered that the individual is a part of the Kace, and his 
moral experience a part of the experience of Humanity. 1 1 is 
not possible so to separate each life from the organism to 
which it belongs as to value and judge it by itself alone. As 
Carlyle has said, " No thought, word, or act of man but has 
sprung withal out of all men, and works sooner or later, 


recognisably or unrecognisably, on all men." And this truth 
is the key to the doctrine of Judgment, even as it is the key 
to the inner meaning of other apocalyptic forms. When we 
remember the organic unity of the Race we see that no final 
verdict can be passed on the individual except as part of a 
verdict on mankind. Not till the Book of the Soul has been 
closed can the record of souls be written. 

(a) If we were to essay a definite account of the entire 
conception of Judgment to come, we would find that it had in 
it two distinct elements. In the first place, there is a personal 
individual reckoning, a crisis of revelation, wherein a man 
sees himself as he is, knows his position in the sight of God 
his relation to the moral law and the divine Kingdom. This 
experience determines his own immediate destiny. But, in 
the second place, this individual crisis is not, and cannot be, 
a complete and perfect judgment, giving an account of the 
whole man and the final value of his life. He is not only an 
individual, possessed of this or that private character, he is 
also a member of a race ; and evidently th'is aspect of his 
record has to be taken into consideration in estimating the 
total significance of him. A man of genius, for instance, like 
Shakespeare, lives his personal life, meets with certain tempta 
tions, fights his battles in the lonely places of the soul, attains 
a certain type of character ; and at the end goes in and 
stands before his Master. But there is something more to be 
said about Shakespeare than this. He was entrusted with 
supreme creative powers, and he exercised them in accordance 
with a great ideal. He set in motion forces which remain for 
ever active in the lives of men. His works are part of the 
world so long as it endures. And all this is to be taken into 
account in considering the value of the man. The manner in 
which he exercised his gifts had a moral worth and meaning 
a worth and meaning that cannot be told till the end of things 
is come. We see all this clearly in the case of Shakespeare 
and of every other great personality. But that which is true 
of him must be true, in some degree, of all. No man lives to 
himself alone, or even to himself and God alone. He lives 
also to Humanity. In the things he has made, the work he 

86 THE WORLD TO COME done, lie lias become a part of the history of mankind: 
and the moral worth of his influence is something distinct 
from his private character, whether that be good or bad. His 
life has become an eternal element in a larger whole, and 
maintains itself from generation to generation. But the 
complete effect and import of him, in this aspect of his 
existence, will not appear till our Race has reached its goal. 
It is this final valuing of a man, as a part of the complete 
Humanity, that we call the Final Judgment. 

(&) Rational basis of belief. The rational grounds for 
belief in some kind of Future Judgment are, as already 
suggested, of considerable weight. The most important of 
these is the witness of conscience. Conscience is doubtless, in 
its own degree, a tribunal of divine appointment ; but it has 
shortcomings and disabilities which involve the existence of a 
higher tribunal than itself. It bears the characteristics of a 
lower court, whose decisions are subject to review. It claims 
an absolute authority, but it lacks power to enforce its decrees ; 
it can be bribed and cajoled into silence; and it is often 
incapable of making its meaning plain and beyond dispute. 
Its message is often hard to interpret, and its voice muffled by 
the jarring voices of the world. For its vindication it requires 
the appearing at last of a Tribunal incorruptible and undefiled ; 
able to enforce and establish its verdicts, to make its righteous 
ness clear as the noonday, to pronounce its decrees in a world 
where but for its voice there is silence. 

It is evident, also, that there are things in the moral 
universe which are of the nature of Crisis, and experiences in 
our spiritual life which come suddenly and are produced by 
agencies outside ourselves. And these are clearly of the same 
order as the Judgment to come, and point towards it. We 
know, for instance, that the great moral laws which, for the 
most part work in silence, out of sight, do manifest themselves 
also in outward and visible fulfilment. The condemnation of 
evil doing, which is always being written in the records of 
character, keeps expressing itself from time to time in crises 
of suffering, in terrors of self-understanding, in paroxysms of 
conviction, in sudden, vivid revelation. Without these crises, 


these hours and days of judgment, the moral order, as we 
know it, would be incomplete would, indeed, have little iu it 
of healing or of promise. That law of retribution which 
ordains that the heart shall grow harder and ever harder as it 
persists in an evil course, has in it no tendency towards salva 
tion, but works always towards insensibility and death ; it is 
necessary, therefore, that its action be checked, and its narcotic 
influence interrupted, by outward impact upon the life of a man 
by the sound of warning voices, by the stroke of adverse cir 
cumstance, by the glare of sudden light, by the awakening grip 
of fear, by the vital touch of love. A man to whom the voice 
of conscience had spoken in vain has often been awakened to 
the reality of his state when he has read the truth about his life 
in the faces of his fellow-men, or heard it spoken by a faithful 
voice, or felt it graven on his flesh by the fiery stamp of pain. 

Apart from these awakening forces, where were the hopes 
of men ? Without these days of judgment the process of 
judgment was always an agent of destruction. So evident is 
this side of the moral order that the human instinct of 
righteousness is not content with the thought that a man is to 
be left alone to suffer that inner process of retribution that 
hardens the heart, or that he is to have no warning given him 
beyond the chiding of the enfeebled voice of conscience. The 
sense of poetic justice requires that there shall be something 
outward to correspond with the inward state, that the wrong 
doer shall not only be condemned for his evil deeds, but shall 
know himself condemned. It is not enough that he be slowly 
robbed of moral strength while his spirit sleeps ; he must be 
awakened to a sense of his enfeeblement. Consciousness of 
penalty is an essential part of retribution. Without that, 
righteousness is not accomplished ; there is neither fairness to 
the sinner nor vindication of the moral law. 

There are thus elements in God's dealings with men which 
cannot be described as belonging to the mere process of punish 
ment elements with which the thought of a final Reckoning 
completely harmonises. Nay, we may go further, and say that 
without the hope of future Judgment these great things in the 
moral experience of mankind would be left without complete- 


ness. They would be as a road without an end, a voyage 
without a port, and a prophecy without fulfilment. 

All this, then, one may say with confidence on this great 
subject. And yet it is necessary to repeat that there is some 
thing in New Testament teaching and in the principles of our 
Religion which is not expressed by the category of Judgment. 
The idea of the Last Assize always bears a legal aspect, and is 
concerned only with retribution and reward : but the last word 
of Christianity is not law or retribution, but grace. The 
thought of a Last Reckoning, also, suggests a point which closes 
moral history ; but there can be no absolute finality in the life 
of a spiritual being or in the manifestation of God in Christ. 
Thus Judgment is a reality, and all that the Scriptures say of 
it is true. But there is a higher truth that transcends it ; and 
even the terrors of the Day of the Lord must be seen at last to 
have had a place in the infinite purpose of redeeming love. 



1. New Testament doctrine. () We may take it for 
granted that the belief in the Intermediate State was a part 
of the ordinary, popular creed of the Apostolic Church, since 
it is a necessary element in the apocalyptic scheme of thought? 
and belongs to the expectation of Resurrection and Judgment. 
There is nothing in the New Testament to discourage this 
view, but rather a good deal to support it. It is not in the 
least contradicted by those sayings of the Apostles which 
indicate the hope of entering into blessedness at the hour of 
death, and being immediately with the Lord. No intelligent 
Jewish believer thought of Hades as a state in which the 
righteous dead experienced anything else than pure happiness 
a happiness only slightly less than the full glory of the 
Kingdom. And this was probably the character of the 
primitive Christian hope. 

(6) It is true that the doctrine of Hades does not hold any 


prominent place in the New Testament; but this may be 
explained by the fact that the early Christians lived in daily 
expectation of the Parousia, and were confident that some of 
them would see the coming of the Lord. This being so, the 
space between death and the end of the world counted for 
little in the outlook of believers. The Intermediate State, 
therefore, held a small place in their thoughts, being cast into 
shadow by the expectation of the Second Advent, the great 
Beckoning, and the end of the world. 

(c) Such references to the Intermediate State, however, as 
do occur in the New Testament suffice to show that early 
Christian thought on this subject exhibited the same general 
features, and was just as indefinite, as the Jewish doctrine. 
The traditional conception of the Underworld appears in the 
Parable of Dives and Lazarus, where our Lord employs the 
imagery commonly used in apocalyptic descriptions of Hades. 1 
Also, the idea which is expressed in the Testaments of the 
Twelve Patriarchs, that the Messiah would hold the power of 
the keys, is apparent in the saying that Christ has the keys of 
hell and of death. 2 Again, the apocalyptic belief that Hades 
would pass away at the Judgment and merge in heaven and 
hell, is reflected in the prophecy of St. John that Hades will be 
cast into the lake of fire. 3 Similarly, the habit of describing 
the state of the departed as a condition of " sleep " is common 
to the New Testament and Apocalypse generally. 4 Finally, 
the suggestion sometimes found in Jewish writings, that some 
of the dead may find deliverance from Hades, or at least 
may profit by the intercession of the living, is indicated 
by St. Paul's reference to " baptism for the dead " 5 and by 
St. Peter's account of " the descent into Hades." 6 , 

(d) " Sleep of souls." The persistence with which the 
sacred writers describe death as " sleep," " sleep in Jesus," is 
very striking, and has led in some cases to the doctrine, 
suggested even by Luther, that souls remain in a state of 

1 Luke 16 19 -' 26 ; cf. En. 22, also^ Mace. 13 17 . 

2 Rev. I 18 ; of. Testament of Levi, 18 10 . 

3 Rev. 20 14 ; cf. ^ Ezra 8 03 . 4 1 Cor. 15 18 etc. ; cf. En. 92 10 etc. 
5 1 Cor. 15 29 ; cf. 2 Mace. 12 38 ' 45 , " 1 Pet. 3 18 ' 25 4 s , 


unconsciousness between death and resurrection. There is 
nothing irrational in this belief. The mind, whether it be 
ever really unconscious during this life or no, is undoubtedly 
robbed of the power to express itself by that quiescence of the 
brain which occurs in slumber, and sometimes in disease. 
And it is not incredible that it may experience a similar 
disability in the intermediate state if it be there deprived 
altogether of its organ of expression. Nor does the idea of 
the sleep of souls involve the conclusion that the blessedness 
of the departed is really delayed. To the man who has been 
asleep there seems to have been but a moment between falling 
into slumber and awaking again. And in like manner, the 
soul that passed into unconsciousness at the moment of death 
and awoke again at the resurrection would not be aware of 
having suffered loss although it had slept for ten thousand 
years. It does not, however, seem that the Apostles are to be 
understood in a literal sense when they speak of " those who 
sleep." Such an interpretation would be contrary to Jewish 
thought as a whole, and to many sayings in the New Testa 
ment. Probably the description of death as sleep is to be 
understood in a poetic way, as signifying rest, peace, security. 
This conception has permanent hold on the Christian mind, 
and has received final expression in Shakespeare's perfect line 
" After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well." 

(e) Descent into Hades. But the most interesting and 
important references to the Intermediate State are contained 
in those passages which show that the traditional belief in the 
Descent of Christ into Hades goes back to New Testament 
times. St. Paul probably refers to this belief when he says in 
the Epistle to the Ephesians that our Lord " descended into 
the lower parts of the earth." But the First Epistle of St. 
Peter supplies more definite information as to the nature of 
the ancient opinion on this matter. In that Epistle the Apostle 
declares, first, that Jesus descended in the spirit into Hades 
and proclaimed good news there to certain spirits in prison ; 
and, secondly, that the gospel was preached to the dead that 
these might live according to God in the spirit. 1 
1 See App. II. (Hades). 


Various endeavours have been made to explain these sayings 
in such a way as to exclude the idea of a Descent into the 
Intermediate State, or, failing that, to escape the conclusion 
that Jesus preached " good tidings " there. For instance, it 
has been said that our Lord descended into the lower world 
in order to make a kind of triumphal progress through that 
region and to exhibit the proofs of His victory. This was, in 
effect, Luther's view, and it was expressed by Goethe in one 
of his early poems. Calvin held that the Saviour went down 
into hell itself, partly to declare to the lost their doom, and 
partly " that He might endure in the spirit the cruel torments 
of a lost and damned man." l This is an idea of quite gratui 
tous horror, having no relation to Scripture or reason, but 
evolved entirely out of the inner consciousness of theologians. 
Other explanations are that the Apostle teaches merely that 
the gospel was preached to the spiritually dead in this present 
world, or that he refers to something which took place before 
the Incarnation. But all these interpretations, however in 
genious or theologically convenient, have the fatal defect of 
finding no support whatever in the words of St. Peter, who 
declares that Jesus descended into Hades and preached good 

Whatever difficulty, then, may beset the detailed exegesis 
of these admittedly difficult passages, their general import 
seems plain. St. Peter almost certainly meant to teach that 
Jesus in the interval between death and resurrection went 
down into the lower world and there proclaimed good tidings. 
" There should be no doubt," says Dr. Briggs, " as to the New 
Testament doctrine of the descent of Christ into Hades in the 
main features, though many details are obscure." 2 This con 
clusion is, indeed, the only one that can explain the widespread 
belief regarding this matter which existed in the early Church. 
Poly carp, Ignatius, Hernias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, 
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hippoly tus, all refer with more 
or less emphasis to the Mission of Christ to departed souls. 

1 "Quod diros in anima crociatus perditi ac damnati hoiniuis pertulerit " 
(Institutio, Lib. II. cap. 16. 10). 

2 Fundamental Christian Faith, pp. 129, 130. 


Hernias extends the sweep of the tradition, and asserts that 
the Apostles after their martyrdom continued in the under 
world the redeeming work which their Master had begun 
" The Apostles and the teachers who preached the name of the 
Son of God, after they had fallen asleep in the power and faith 
of the Son of God, preached also to them that had fallen asleep 
before them." l The most vivid account, however, of this 
tradition is to be found in the Christian apocalypse entitled 
the Descent into Hades, written some time during the first half 
of the second century. It tells of the bright light which 
shone of a sudden in the darkness of Hades, of the appearing 
of John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Son of God, 
of the rejoicing with which Patriarchs and Apostles hailed His 
approach. It describes the terror of the evil powers at the 
news that the Conqueror was drawing nigh, their endeavours 
to close the gates against Him, their ultimate confession of 
defeat. It shows us, finally, the multitudes of the ransomed 
children of Adam, and the company of the saints departing 
from Hades, led by their divine Deliverer, with songs of joy 
and thanksgiving. 2 

This primitive belief receives final expression in the familiar 
article of the Apostles' Creed "He descended into Hades." 
It is to be remembered that this Creed was practically com 
pleted in the fourth century, and that it contains nothing 
which was not considered to pertain to the Catholic faith. It 
is a singularly successful endeavour to express such beliefs as 
were held to be of apostolic authority. That its testimony as 
to the Descent into Hades was generally received by medieval 
Christianity is witnessed by Dante, who represents Virgil as 
telling how, shortly after his own arrival in the infernal region, 
there came one, " With crowns of conquest gloriously graced," 
who released from their imprisonment and took away with him 
to heaven Adam and Abel, Moses and David, and all the 
primitive fathers of the ancient faith. 3 

So Peter's reference to the ministry of Christ in the Under- 

1 Sheptord of Hermas, Hi. 16. 

2 Gospel of Nicodemus (Westcott's edition), pp. 17-23. 

3 Inferno, Canto IV. 


world thus remains the earliest and most important of those 
utterances which show that primitive Christian thought agreed 
with apocalyptic Judaism in that it did distinguish between 
Hades and Gehenna, and also that it did not object to the idea 
that some of the dead might hear good tidings and be delivered 
from the Prison-house of Souls. 

2. Theological developments. But the doctrine of the 
Intermediate State, which has never ceased to find a place in 
Christian theology, is to be traced to something deeper than 
the mere authority of certain New Testament sayings. It owes 
its vitality to the evident truth that it is involved in the 
doctrine of Judgment. We have seen that the Apostolic 
teaching presents Judgment as an experience which awaits 
all men, and is to be anticipated with reverent awe even by 
believers. And this view of the matter is taught by Jesus 
Himself, inasmuch as He declares that " every idle word that 
a man shall speak, he shall give account thereof in the day of 
Judgment," and also affirms that the Lord at the establishment 
of His Kingdom will chasten His undutiful servants with a 
severity proportioned to their talent and responsibility. But, 
if this be so, it is evident that the world to come will contain 
something besides the perdition of the lost and the perfect 
glory of the saints, namely, an experience of discipline and 
trial. In other words, it will contain an intermediate state 
intermediate between the conditions of this mortal life and the 
inheritance of the saints in light. In any case, this is un 
doubtedly the belief that has given vitality to this aspect of 
the ancient faith in immortality. 

Greek doctrine. As to the persistent power of this belief 
in an Intermediate State there can be no question. 'It has main 
tained itself thoughout the ages in all the three great branches of 
the Christian Church, though in varying forms and with varying 
degrees of dogmatic definition. The Greco-Eussian Church has 
retained in a vague fashion the old apocalytic view of Hades as 
a state in which the good and the evil experience imperfect 
forms of joy and of sorrow while they await the Judgment. 
Thus Palmer tells us that theological students in Eussia write 
dissertations on such subjects as " The Intermediate State of 


imperfect happiness aud imperfect torment, aud the profitable 
ness of prayers and oblations for the departed ; especially for 
those who have died with faith and repentance but with great 
sins, and without having had time for full amendment of life." 1 
In this doctrine we may find a characteristic trait of orthodox 
Eastern Christianity, which is faithful always to tradition and 
distrusts the Western tendency to precise logical statement. 

Roman doctrine. The Roman theology has developed out 
of the old idea of Hades its dogma of purgatory. Accord 
ing to Roman teaching, the soul's destiny is eternally fixed by 
the individual judgment which takes place at death. Those 
who are condemned in this judgment depart into unending 
torment ; those who endure this final test inherit everlasting 
salvation, but not all of them enter at once into perfect felicity. 
Immediate admission to heaven is the privilege only of certain 
saintly souls ; the great majority of the redeemed must experi 
ence the ordeal of purgatory, which is a condition partly of 
retributive punishment and partly of purifying discipline. 
Whenever the cleansing flame has completed its work, the 
redeemed and purified spirit ascends to the region of the 
blessed, and enjoys henceforth the glorious liberty of the 
children of God. 2 

Protestant speculation. (a) The Protestant Church, on the 
other hand, has formally rejected both the Greek and the 
Roman doctrines of Purgatory, mainly because it finds some 
thing in them which is inconsistent with its view of salvation, 
and because it dislikes the thought that retributive suffering 
remains in the life of the blessed dead. And yet Protestant 
theology has not been able to divest itself altogether of belief 
in an intermediate state. Most of those who in recent times 
have maintained the doctrine of Eternal Punishment have 
recognised that many who depart this world in a condition of 
repentance and faith must begin the future life with an ex 
perience of cleansing and education. And the majority of 
evangelical teachers at the present day hold some form of the 
doctrine that is commonly called " Future Probation." This 

1 Visit to the Russian Church, p. 305. 

" For statement of Roman doctrine, cf. Moehler, Symbolism, pp. 349-353. 


latter form of thought is really the Protestant version of belief 
in an intermediate state, and its exponents find warrant for 
it in those features of New Testament teaching to which I have 
already referred, and also in the many declarations of Scripture 
which affirm the universality of the Gospel. Their argument 
is that, since the New Testament asserts that there is no salva 
tion except through Christ, it implies that every soul of man 
must have an opportunity of accepting Him. But this again 
involves the conclusion that the ministry of the Saviour 
continues beyond the grave. If He is to draw all men unto 
Himself, then He must be lifted up in the sight of all men ; 
and those who have not seen Him in the days of their flesh 
must be enabled to see Him hereafter. If this be not true, 
then the teaching of the Apostles is meaningless ; their claim 
that He is the appointed Saviour of all men is altogether vain. 
Such is the reasoning of many thinkers, such as Dorner, 1 
Muller, 2 Godet, Delitzsch, 3 and other more recent writers ; and 
if it be accepted, then the idea of a continued ministry of grace 
in the state between death and judgment is supported not only 
by the direct statement of St. Peter, but by a great mass of 
indirect New Testament evidence. 

(b) Speculative strength of this theory. Now, the positive 
strength of this theory is derived mainly from the fact that 
existence in this world does not bear the aspect of being 
intended to afford equal opportunity and full probation for 
every soul of man. One may admit that this earthly life is 
admirably adapted for the development and testing of 
Humanity as a whole. The struggle with nature and the 
necessity of learning its secrets and conforming to its laws; 
the constant need of labour ; the clash of race with race ; the 
mingled experience of joy and pain, of childhood, youth, 
maturity, old age ; the various relationships of life ; the 
process of reconciling individual freedom with the good of 
society all these together constitute a mass of influence 
which is admirably suited to develop the human type, and to 

1 System of Christian Doctrine, vol. iv. pp. 408-410. 
- Ohritiian Doctrine of Sin, vol. ii. p. 429. 
3 System of Biblical Psychology, p. 553. 


produce at last such a creature as man is intended to become. 
Matters assume a very different aspect, however, when \ve 
come to consider the case of the individual. It cannot be said 
that the brief span of mortal existence affords equal oppor 
tunity or fair probation for every one that is born of woman. 
Vast multitudes never attain the age of self-consciousness. 
Many more fail to reach maturity. Only a small number 
experience all the seven ages of man. Some, again, inherit 
defects of physical life which react upon the mind and hinder 
its expression. Some are born into a low state of civilisation. 
The lives of others are narrowed and confined, and denied the 
means of self-realisation. To how few it is given to know the 
glory of the world, or to taste the fulness of the cup of life. 

One can imagine an arm of the sea stretching between two 
shores, of which it might be said " This strait seems perfectly 
designed to afford a test of the sea-going qualities of ships. It 
has in it all kind of perils rocks, shoals, currents ; also all 
sorts of weather squalls, storms, calms, heat and cold. No 
better trial could be given any ship than a voyage across this 
water." But, suppose we found on inquiry that of all the 
vessels launched on that sea the greater number sank before 
they cleared the harbour bar ; that of those which survived to 
reach the open waters some experienced favouring winds and 
peaceful skies, while others had test of continual storms and 
bufferings and varied perils ; that, finally, only a few of the 
craft which attempted this voyage ever made the opposite 
shore, we should surely be disposed to doubt whether this 
stretch of sea was really designed after all to afford a fair test 
of the efficiency and worthiness of ships. This mortal life is 
such a sea. In theory it affords an ideal probation. But in 
experience it does not, since a multitude of souls never are 
exposed to its trials nor granted its opportunities, since very 
few complete its course, and since its tests and its privileges 
are not given in equal measure to this man and to that. 

There are thus many difficulties besetting the view that 
this earthly life is designed to afford a final probation of souls. 
And the greatest of these, perhaps, is suggested by the fact 
that so many perish in infancy. The problem presented by 


this feature of human existence has always been felt by 
theologians. 1 The general teaching of the Roman Church has 
always been that, of all who die in early years, those that have 
enjoyed the privilege of baptism inherit the fulness of eternal 
life ; while those who have not been baptized experience 
unending happiness, though they fail of perfect blessing. 
This is probably the meaning of that passage in the early 
part of Dante's Inferno which gives to unbaptized infants a 
place in that region where dwell the good and great of the 
pagan world Homer, Virgil, and their peers. The early 
Reformed theology, less humane than the Roman, commonly 
taught that elect children were received at death to Paradise, 
while the non-elect shared with all lost souls that everlasting 
doom which is the appointed penalty of original sin. On the 
other hand, modem theology of the liberal evangelical type 
usually rejects both these theories, and affirms broadly that all 
who leave this world before they reach the age of responsi 
bility are saved. But this latter view, though it harmonises 
with the sentiments of Christian humanity, is not easily 
defended so long as we maintain that this life presents the 
final probation of souls. We may assume that such a trial as 
is given us in this world is necessary for the perfecting of 
moral character, is an essential stage in our development. It 
is, indeed, only on this assumption that we can justify all the 
cost, the pathos and tragedy of human history. The suffering 
and heartbreak which have attended probation on the earth 
cannot be reconciled with the goodness of God, unless we 
believe that such a probation was necessary for the attainment 
of eternal life. But if this moral conflict and trial are thus 
necessary for the gaining of the highest good, how can it be 
said that those who have never experienced it may yet 
without it achieve the crown ? If the battle is the only path 
to victory, how can those who have never fought be counted 
among the conquerors ? This is certainly a very weighty 
objection to the general liberal doctrine of infant salvation. 
But it is a difficulty that loses all its force as soon as we 
confess that this life is not the scene of a complete and final 

1 Of. Gregory of Nyssa, De Statu Infantium, etc. 


testing, that the period of opportunity stretches out into the 
future state and endures until all have experienced the necessary 
discipline, have faced " the hard task that man was made for," 
and have, for good or for evil, attained to permanence of 
moral character. 

(c) Criticism. Such are some of the advantages which 
attend the theory of future Probation, and they are generally 
admitted by those Protestant theologians of our time who 
believe that evil is eternal, or who affirm Conditional Immor 
tality, or who profess an agnostic view of the whole matter. 
One may confess, however, a certain want of interest in the 
mere question of future Probation. The term "probation" 
does not adequately describe the experience of spiritual 
creatures or their relation to the Creator. It stands for an 
element in the moral life, but not for the whole of it. There 
is something narrow and legal in the idea that we are given 
life merely that we may be tested, either here or hereafter, 
and if we fail to stand the trial, may be cast away for ever. 
Such a conception is, indeed, inconsistent with the doctrine of 
the Fatherhood of God. An inventor may make a machine, 
and if it fail to do its work may break it in pieces ; a master 
may engage a servant, and if the servant prove incapable may 
dismiss him ; but a father cannot reject his son on the ground 
that he has not fulfilled his expectations. No man who is 
worthy to have a son says to himself, " I will test this lad, and 
if he fails I will cast him out." He knows that no failure, or 
succession of failures, on the part of his son, can make an end 
of his obligation to do and to desire the best for him. Such 
failure must, of course, entail suffering and penalty ; but trans 
cending all punishment, all retribution, is the necessity that is 
laid upon a father to strive to the last that his child may be 
saved and brought into the ways of good. But if the idea of 
" probation " is thus an inadequate account of the relation of 
any man to his son, much less is it capable of expressing the 
whole attitude of the Heavenly Father towards any to whom 
He has granted the gift of life. God, who knows all things, 
does not require to try any man in order to discover his 
capabilities ; and so all the testing to which He subjects us is 


better described as discipline than as probation. He does put 
us on trial, He does bring us to judgment. But the issue of 
testing and of judgment cannot be retributive, and nothing more. 
It cannot make an end of that divine grace which is from ever 
lasting to everlasting ; which ceaselessly strives to transmute 
all failure and all penalty into righteousness and peace. 

3. Prayer for the dead. Closely related to the doctrines 
of Purgatory and of Future Probation, and belonging like 
them to the subject of the Intermediate State, is the question 
of Prayer for the Dead. There can be no doubt that the 
practice of supplication for the departed prevailed widely in 
the early Christian Community. Arnobius, for instance, 
mentions incidentally that petitions were offered in the 
churches of his day for the dead as well as for the living. 1 
In later times, of course, this custom became universal ; and it 
is still an essential element in the public worship and private 
devotion of that great majority of Christians who adhere to 
the Greek and Eoman Communions. Even in the Evangelical 
Churches, also, many thinkers have protested against the idea 
that the inhabitants of the Future State are excluded from the 
reach of intercession ; and petitions for the welfare of those 
who are gone before are quite commonly offered at the present 
day in Anglican places of worship. So that the weight of the 
historical evidence in favour of this observance is undoubtedly 
very impressive. 

It is beyond question, also, that there have always been 
individual Protestants of perfectly orthodox belief who have 
been mindful of their beloved dead, in their hours of private 
devotion. Thus Samuel Johnson, a man of the simplest faith, 
always continued to pray for the soul of his wife departed. 
After the death of his friend Thrale, too, we find in his diary 
the touching petition " Almighty God, who art the giver of 
all good, enable me to remember with due thankfulness the 
comforts and advantages I have enjoyed through the friendship 
of Henry Thrale, for whom, so far as is lawful, I humbly 
implore Thy mercy in his present state." 2 And we may 

1 Contra Oenles, Book IV. sec. 36. 

2 Prayers and Meditations, }>. 135. 


confess some difficulty in showing reasonable grounds for 
condemning any who may follow Johnson's example in this 
matter. Modern theology has largely departed from the 
dogmatic position which excludes intercession for the dead. 
No one, for instance, can logically object to such intercession 
who believes in future probation, or who thinks that the souls 
of the blessed gradually develop in holiness after they have 
departed this life, or who is uncertain in his doctrine of 
future destiny. Also, it is reasonable to ask by what authority 
we interfere with the rights of the individual believer in so 
intimate a matter, and say to him Thou shalt not. Not by 
the authority of any express commandment of Christ or of 
His Apostles, since the New Testament is silent on this 
subject. Not in the name of the Church universal, since the 
great majority of Christians in all ages have prayed for the 
dead. Not on the ground of assured knowledge, for we cannot 
knmo that intercession does not avail for the departed. Nor 
can we urge that it is a reverent and religious thing to leave 
the beloved dead silently in the hands of God. Evidently 
this is an argument which might be used to discourage prayer 
for the living, since they, as certainly as " those who sleep," 
are in the care of the almighty Love. May we not say with 
justice that intercession, in all its forms, is a matter of faith, 
not of reason ? It is one of the great enduring facts of the 
religious life, always and everywhere, and is simply to be 
accepted as one of the essential features of the spiritual Order. 
We might as well ask whether the outburst of life in the 
springtime is of any use, whether the rotation of day and 
night serves any end, as say " What is the value of inter 
cession, and how can it avail ? " As to the manner in which 
intercession avails we have no knowledge ; we cannot see how 
the All-wise and All-loving can be moved by the poor 
petitions of our ignorance. But we do know that pray for 
each other we must ; and we do know, also, that this necessity 
arises from the least selfish and the noblest instincts of the 
soul, and that it binds us to our brethren and to God. We 
trust, also, that in some sense it makes us fellow-workers 
with God in the fulfilment of His purpose. But if this be so, 


we may well distrust all limitations of intercession which rest 
on logical reasoning, or on the assumption that the power that 
avails within the borders of this mortal life is brought to 
impotence by death. We believe in the communion of saints ; 
we believe that we who dwell here and those who are gone 
before do but inherit different rooms in the Father's house. 
How then can we be sure that our prayers for them, or theirs 
for us, are profitless and vain ? While, therefore, we may be 
content to remain by the tradition of our own Church in this 
matter, we may, at the same time, confess that the forbidding 
of petitions for the departed is difficult to justify. Indeed, it 
is evident that all religious men do in effect, though not 
perhaps in words, pray for the dead. " Prayer is the soul's 
sincere desire " ; and the sincere desire that the departed may 
find forgiveness and peace, may enjoy the light and life 
eternal, is really a spiritual act which differs in nothing but 
form from stated intercession, and is the substance of all the 
liturgies. 1 

Permanent value of belief in Intermediate State. But, 
whatever our view of these difficult questions may be, and 
whether or no we are prepared to accept any theological 
formula as to the subject of the Intermediate State, we cannot 
doubt that the Christian Church, whether Greek, Roman, or 
Reformed, does recognise in some degree the force of those 
considerations which created and have sustained the three 
fold doctrine of future destiny. And so we are constrained to 
admit that the belief in " Hades," like the other apocalyptic 
forms, has shown such vitality and endurance as to prove it 
the expression of abiding truth as to vindicate the place 
which it has held in religious faith since ever ntan came to 
believe in the life everlasting. 

We have seen that the Kingdom, the Eising from the dead, 
and the final Reckoning owe their permanent power to their 
being the symbols of moral and spiritual realities. And, in like 
manner, the doctrine of the Intermediate State has its roots 
in something deeper than historical circumstance or changing 
speculations. Like the beliefs in an universal Resurrection 

1 Of. Mackintosh, Immortality and the Future, pp. 161-163. 


and Judgment, it rests on the assured conviction that the lot 
of the individual, whether for weal or for woe, must have 
something wanting to its completeness until the destiny of the 
race as a whole has finally been determined. No one can 
doubt that this is a conviction which is firmly based on truth ; 
nor does its validity depend on any particular view of ultimate 
destiny. If every man be judged at death according to the 
record of his life, and enter thereafter into a settled condition 
of sorrow or of blessedness ; still it is evident that until the 
number of the condemned be accomplished and the company 
of the redeemed completed, the cup of experience must remain 
unfulfilled for every one that is lost and for every one that is 
saved. If, again, there be a final Judgment at the close of 
earthly history which shall mark the end alike of hope and of 
fear ; then, until that day has dawned, no saint and no sinner 
can inherit in its completeness the place prepared for him of 
old. If, finally, beyond all judgment there stretch a period 
of penalty and discipline and ministry which shall culminate 
at last in some far-off event of final peace and light ; then, till 
that consummation be attained no separate soul in all the 
universe, however rich in blessedness, however crowned with 
life, can know the flower and glory of beatitude. For the 
purpose of God is, in all its parts, a purpose for the race of 
men ; nor can it be fulfilled in one until attained in all. 
Until the latest laggard of the human host has reached his 
house of destiny, it must be true of all his comrades gone 
before that they without him cannot be made perfect. 





1. THE doctrine of Gehenna and its fiery torments affords 
a striking example of the essentially symbolic character of the 
apocalyptic genius. That doctrine was originally just the 
negative side of the Kingdom of God conception. It had 
really no connection with any deliberate theological opinion 
about the ultimate destiny of mankind. And all later 
endeavours to identify it with the dogma of Everlasting Evil 
have been unsuccessful and unfortunate unfitted to endure a 
rational analysis, and harmful in their effects on religious 
thought and life. At least, this is the view of the matter 
which I propose to illustrate, in this chapter. 

2. The sources of the Gehenna belief, as it appears in the 
Christian Church, must be sought far back in the history of 
Israel; and its peculiar forms must be attributed largely to 
remote influences, mainly Egyptian and Persian. We have 
seen how in later Old Testament times it was believed that 
the benefits and blessings of the Messianic Kingdom would be 
extended to such of the Gentile nations as should submit to its 
sway. The negative side of this expectation, however, was 
that the persistently hostile among foreign peoples would 
experience total national destruction irrecoverable calamity 
and disaster. An emblem of this doom was found in the 


putrefaction and burning that were in the valley of Hinnom 
where, according to tradition, were gathered abominable de'bris 
and carcases of the slain. " Their worm shall not die, neither 
shall their fire be quenched." 1 

3. This was, generally speaking, the early conception of the 
aeonian punishment. It was a purely mundane thing, "the 
everlasting desolation of many generations." But, as the belief 
in immortality matured, and as the thought of punishment 
became more individual and ethical, the notion of this final 
destruction was carried forward into the future state. It 
became the conception of a personal and other-worldly as well 
as of a national and earthly ruin. And this development led 
to an incongruous fashion of using imagery that had been 
suited to the older belief, to illustrate the features of the newer 
conception. When the scene of punishment was extended 
beyond this earth no emancipation was achieved from the 
barbarous forms of thought which had been derived from the 
horrors of war and of Oriental tyranny. Rather did these 
become greatly exaggerated. Imagination became free to riot 
in visions of the torments of the future state. No one could 
check its excesses and say : " I have been in the lower regions, 
and these visions are not true." Hence there appeared in 
Jewish teaching about Gehenna ingenious descriptions of com 
plicated horrors, which the apocalyptic prophets embellished 
with materials drawn from the folklore of the peoples, and 
especially from Persian sources. Not only general conceptions, 
but also definite symbols like the " outer darkness," " the 
eternal fire," and so on, were borrowed from the Zoroastrian 
Scriptures. 2 Not that the Jewish artists stood greatly in need 
of resorting to foreign teachers for help in the production of 
pictures fully adequate to the requirements of their theme. 
They showed a wealth of original genius in depicting the 
manifold tortures and sorrows of Gehenna. 

4. Thus the doctrine of future torment became established. 
But it was quite vague and undogmatic. It was a mere exten 
sion into the future state of the penalty and ruin which it had 
been the custom to predict for the godless nations in this 

1 Isa. 66- 4 . 2 Of. Mills, Avesta Exchatology, p. 50. 


present world. It is important to bear this in mind to 
remember that the idea of aeonian punishment is older than the 
belief in personal immortality. It had in the beginning no real 
likeness, and can never have any legitimate relation, to the 
dogma of Eternal Evil. It was not the creation of men who 
had faced the problem of human destiny, and had come to a 
definite conclusion regarding it. It simply meant that, even 
as this present world was to witness the Messianic Kingdom 
and the overthrow of its enemies, so the future state was to 
see the vindication of the righteous and the destruction of 
their foes. The older conception and the new remained side 
by side in Jewish thought. Doom and destruction awaited the 
Gentiles here ; and Gehenna flamed for the godless hereafter. 
And whether men spoke of aeoiiian punishment as a thing of 
the present or of the future, they meant by it nothing theo 
logical. The flames of Gehenna filled the background of the 
picture which had for its foreground the City of God. 



1. There can be no doubt, of course, that in the time of our 
Lord, which was a period of great mental activity, men were 
beginning to suggest theories of ultimate destiny. But the 
expression of such theories was always hindered and confused 
when the Gehenna symbolism was employed. Thus the Eabbis 
of the schools of Hillel and Shammai would have been able to 
make their meaning much clearer had they not felt obliged to 
use the cumbrous and grotesque language of tradition. It was 
unfortunate that, when they wished to say that the period of 
future punishment would be limited, they had to speak of 
sinners going down into the Gehenna flame and " moaning and 
coming up again." Also, they did themselves injustice when 
they expressed the idea of annihilation by asserting that souls 
would be " burned up " and " their ashes scattered under the 
feet of the righteous." And these are but examples of the 


truth that the old figurative language was unfitted to become 
the instrument of speculative thought. 

2. Another illustration of this is found in the difficulty 
which, as we have seen, besets any attempt to interpret in a 
dogmatic sense the Gehenna imagery in the Book of Enoch. 
And a similar perplexity attends the doctrinal exegesis of all 
the books of this class. Fourth Ezra, for instance, is so hard 
to understand that some excellent authorities find in it the 
idea of conditional immortality, 1 while others are quite sure 
that it expresses belief in unending torment. It is interesting 
also to note that while the Apocalypse of Baruch is said to 
have issued from the school of Sharnmai its language seems to 
assert that all the wicked suffer everlasting woe. This was 
not the doctrine of Shammai, who reserved the fate of per 
petual torment for the worst of sinners. Why, then, does 
Baruch convey no hint of any distinction between one class of 
transgressors and another ? Evidently, for the reason that the 
language of Apocalypse was adapted to express only the con 
ception of general destruction. 

3. But a final proof of the elusive nature of the Gehenna 
imagery is afforded by the inability of modern writers to give 
an account of its dogmatic force without contradicting them 
selves. Thus, the learned article on " Eschatology ," in the Jewish 
Encyclopaedia, states the doctrine of Judaism to be that " all 
evil deeds meet with everlasting punishment." Yet it also 
says that " Gehenna has a double purpose, annihilation and 
eternal pain." Further, it tells us that Shammai's doctrine of 
Gehenna " resembled Purgatory," and finally that some Rabbis 
believed that "the punishment of the wicked endured for 
twelve months." Surely these are perplexing contradictions ; 
but they are due simply to the writer's fidelity in describing 
a state of hopeless mental confusion. And this confusion 
arose partly out of the endeavour to express rational theories 
and distinctions of thought through the medium of imagery 
that was meant to convey only a vague conception of over 
throw and ruin. 

1 E.g. Schultz, 0. T. Theology, vol. ii. p. 395 (note). 




But if all this is to be said about the Jewish presentations 
of Gehenna, very much the same things are to be affirmed 
concerning the .early Christian teaching on this subject. The 
New Testament prophecies of fiery wrath and judgment are 
not more easy to interpret than the pictures of Enoch. In 
their references to the pit of destruction, our sacred writers 
betray little sign of speculative influences ; and their use of 
the fire imagery is very free and varied. It is literary rather 
than dogmatic, and suggests sometimes one thought and some 
times another. 

1. Its general characteristics. (a) The writer of the Book of 
Eevelation, for instance, tells us that the wicked "shall be 
tormented day and night for ever " ; * but, on the other hand, 
he says that " death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire." 2 
The first of these sayings, taken literally, states the doctrine of 
Everlasting Torment; while the second suggests the idea of 
Annihilation, since its intention is to teach that there will be 
an end of death and of the Intermediate State. And so, if we 
are to suppose that this writer had in mind a theory of destiny, 
we must conclude that he enforced two contradictory views. 3 
The absurdity of this conclusion warns us not to attempt 
dogmatic interpretation. Indeed, the impossibility of attach 
ing importance to St. John's prophecies of eternal doom 
becomes evident when we remember his saying that the smoke 
of the fallen city of Rome will " go up for ever and ever." * 

(b) The Apostle Paul, like Philo, avoids all reference to fire 
as the symbol of eternal perdition. It is true that in Second 
Thessalonians he predicts that the Lord will come " in flaming 
fire " ; 5 but the terms used in this passage point to the thought 
of annihilation. On the other hand, the element of fire appears 

1 Rev. 20 10 . 2 20 14 . 

3 This is Beyschlag's conclusion, N. T. Theology, vol. ii. p. 404. 

4 Rev. 19 3 . B 2 Thess. I 8 . 


as a symbol of testing and saving power in the third chapter 
of First Corinthians, where it is said that in the day of judg 
ment certain believers in Christ will be " saved as by fire." l 
And so, if we are to dogmatise the fire imagery used by St. 
Paul, we must say that it embodies the doctrine of Purgatory, 
and also of Destruction. 

(c) We may further add to these illustrations of New 
Testament usage the passage in which St. Peter likens faith 
that is tested by affliction to gold that is tried by fire. 2 Also, 
it is important to remember the great imaginative utterance in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, " Our God is a consuming fire." 3 
The same Epistle declares that apostates from Christ have 
nothing to look for but judgment and a fierceness of devouring 
fire, and that their "end is to be burned." 4 It must be 
admitted that this is language which suggests the doom of 
utter extinction. 

(d) But it is when we come to the Gospels themselves that 
we find the greatest difficulty in attaching one fixed theological 
meaning to the symbolism of fire. Thus, the Baptist declares 
that the Messiah will baptize " withXhe Holy Ghost and with 
fire," and will " burn up the ch#ff with unquenchable tire." 6 
And it is clear that in the first of these prophecies he has in 
view spiritual and moral force ; while the apparent meaning 
of the second prediction is that the wicked will be totally 
destroyed. Our Lord, also, makes fire the symbol of spiritual 
power in the saying, "I am come to send fire on the earth," 6 
and still more in the striking utterance, " Every one must be 
consecrated with the fire of self-discipline." 7 Evidently, the 
Synoptic use of this symbolism is quite as free and varied as 
that of St. Paul or of St. John the Divine. 

It thus appears that the emblem of fire in common New 
Testament usage signifies four different things spiritual 
energy, purifying discipline, penal suffering, and total extinction. 

2. Gehenna, prophecies of Jesus. But, of course, the most 
important and difficult of those sayings in the sacred books 

1 1 Cor. 3 15 . - 1 Pet. I 7 . :: Ileb. 12 29 . 

4 10 27 6". 5 Matt. 3 n - 12 . 6 Luke 12 49 . 

7 Mark 9 49 (Mofl'att's translation) ; cf. Bruce in Expos. Greek Test. 


that embody this type of symbolism are found in the Synoptic 
prophecies that the outcasts from the Kingdom will be cast 
into Gehenna, the unquenchable and eternal fire. 1 And these 
predictions afford a final proof that this imagery is quite un- 
dogmatic in its meaning. The attempt to deduce from them 
a definite and consistent theory of future destiny is entirely 

(a) In the first place, it is impossible to say that all these 
references to Gehenna and its torments are couched in the 
very words of Jesus. They do not, as a rule, bear the imprint 
of His mind, being expressed in terms which are entirely 
traditional, and therefore not suited to convey any message 
that is individual or definite. Phrases and sayings that have 
been used over and over again by all sorts of people lose their 
power to declare anything but a vague and common idea. 
And so, when we find such expressions in the Gospels, we are 
without any means of assuring ourselves that they belong to a 
verbatim report. They do not verify themselves, any more 
than would a proverb or a commonplace quotation. It would 
be otherwise, of course, if these Gehenna prophecies were 
accompanied by any qualifying or explanatory sayings, such as 
might show that they had issued with newness of meaning from 
the mind of Jesus. But no such interpreting phrases are found 
in the Gospels. Other apocalyptic forms, like those of the 
Kingdom and of the Messiah, appear in the Synoptic records 
so modified and enriched by contact with the mind of our Lord 
that they guarantee themselves as part of His teaching. But 
these predictions of Gehenna are not different in any respect 
from similar prophecies in the Jewish books. Indeed, they are 
singularly wanting in any feature that might associate them 
with the personality of the Saviour. We cannot find in them 
any image or thought which is not traditional. 

This will appear at once if we quote a few typical sayings 
from the Synoptics, and compare them with parallel expressions 
in the Book of Enoch. Thus we read in St. Matthew's Gospel 
" When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the 
holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of 

1 Cf. Matt. 13 42 - 50 18 s , Mark 9 43 - 48 etc. 


His glory. . . . Then shall He say . . . ' Depart from Me, ye 
cursed, into the eternal fire.' . . . The Son of Man shall send 
forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all 
things that offend, and them who do iniquity ; and shall cast 
them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing 
of teeth. ... As therefore the tares are gathered and burned 
in the fire ; so shall it be in the end of the world. . . . Fear 
Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." l 

It will not be questioned that these sayings, taken together, 
represent the whole Synoptic Apocalypse of punishment. 
Compare it, then, with a similar statement composed of quota 
tions from Enoch " When they see the Son of Man sitting on 
the throne of His glory . . . He will deliver them to the 
angels of punishment . . . the holy angels. . . . And they 
will be banished from His presence . . . cursed for ever. . . . 
They shall be led to the abyss of fire ... a fire which burns 
for ever . . . the flame of a burning fire, and the voice of 
crying and lamentation and weeping. ... As straw in fire 
shall they burn." 2 

Who can fail to observe the resemblance between these two 
prophecies ? Who can say that the first, any more than the 
second, bears any marks of individual genius ? Surely it is 
evident that they both owe their form to a common imaginative 
tradition. Also, it is to be remembered that this tradition kept 
repeating the same imagery, through all changes of thought, 
for at least two hundred years. It is plain that such ancient 
and conventional symbols were not able to express anything 
that was peculiar to the mind of any one teacher. Indeed, the 
proof of this, in the case of Jesus, is written on the face of the 
records. No one could infer from these Synoptic prophecies 
that our Lord distinguished between different classes of sinners, 
or that He believed in degrees of punishment, or that He had 
compassion for lost souls ? 

(&) This is a consideration, however, which does not help 
us much towards a theological conclusion. It does not prove 
that Jesus did not utter prophecies of this kind, but only that 

1 Matt. 25 31 - 41 IS 4 *-*** JO*. 

- En. 62 5 - ll 63 n 102' 10 1:i 67 13 108 s - 6 48 s . 

GEHENNA 1 1 1 

we cannot be sure that we possess them in the very terms He 
used, 1 or in the fulness of their original form. Still less does 
it create any doubt that our Lord did speak of Gehenna as the 
appointed doom of those who might be outcasts from the 
Kingdom. But this admission does not enable us to attain a 
definite interpretation of this element in the Gospels. We 
have to remember that Gehenna represented the negative side 
of the Kingdom of God idea ; it signified exclusion from the 
blessings of the Coming Age. And this fact presents a serious 
obstacle to any attempt at confident interpretation. The negative 
side of any idea is conditioned by the positive side ; our know 
ledge of the one is limited by our understanding of the other. 
Hence it follows that the Synoptic doctrine of Gehenna must 
be interpreted by the Synoptic presentation of the Kingdom. 
But we have seen that our Lord's conception of the Eeign of 
God was poetic and undefined, and we must conclude that His 
idea of Gehenna was of the same character. If we do not 
know whether the Messianic Kingdom which Jesus predicted 
was to be temporal or eternal; and if He described it as at 
once earthly and heavenly, material and spiritual, present and 
to come then it is difficult to see how we can attach any one 
fixed meaning to His sayings regarding the fate of those who 
should be exiles from the City of God. And so the knowledge 
that Jesus spoke of Gehenna helps us little towards an under 
standing of His mind. 

(c) But, in the second place, it is evident that difficulties 
remain even if we grant that Jbhese Gehenna sayings do embody 
a doctrine of future destiny. We have still to ask what that 
doctrine is. We have to inquire, for instance, whether the 
doom which is prophesied for the unrighteous is -everlasting 
punishment or torment ending in annihilation. The attempt 
to solve this problem leads us into a field of entirely profitless 
discussion. We become involved in a debate about the mean 
ing of a few ambiguous words, and of two or three pictorial 
expressions. We are constrained to balance a very little 
evidence on one side against a very little on the other ; and we 

1 "Eternal lire," "eternal punishment," being peculiar to St. Matthew, 
are doubtful. 


know that it matters nothing whether the scale inclines in this 
way or in that. The doctrine of Jesus as to the fate of man 
kind is not to be ascertained by a precarious weighing of petty 

It is true that in the great parable of Judgment (Matt. 
2532-48) the eternal fire" is defined as "eternal punishment." 
But this is a passage which does not lend itself to the designs 
of confident theologians. Its closing declaration, " These shall 
go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into 
eternal life," is probably no part of the parable. It seems to 
be a comment of the Evangelist or of some later scribe ; since 
it really distracts attention from the main purpose of the 
passage, which is not to declare the duration of punishment, 
but to explain the principle of judgment. We have to 
remember, also, that the phrase " aeonian punishment " is used 
with great freedom by many Jewish writers, as is illustrated 
by a passage in the Fragmenta of Philo, 1 wherein this very 
expression describes a purely temporal and earthly penalty. 
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, also, states that 
women who adorn themselves unduly are reserved for " eternal 
punishment " ; 2 and, surely, no one can attach dogmatic rigour 
to this pronouncement. It is to be borne in mind, further, 
that the apocalyptic writers use the term "eternal life" to 
describe the life of the Kingdom even when there is no 
suggestion of endlessness ; 3 so that eternal punishment prob 
ably meant for them simply the state of exclusion from the 
Messianic dominion. The looseness with which Hellenistic 
authors of that time spoke of " eternity " is indicated by the 
passage in which Philo says that the lower creatures are 
enemies of mankind to " an illimitable eternity," and yet goes 
on to assert that these will be reconciled to humanity at the 
coming of the Kingdom. 4 

But, leaving this point aside, it is beyond dispute that the 
parable as a whole presents peculiar difficulties for the ex- 

1 See App. III. : N.T. term " Eternal." 

2 Betibf.n 5 s (/c6Xacris al&vios). 

3 Cf. Fragments of Greek Version of Etweh, 1-36. 

4 Praem. et Poen. 15 (&Trcplypa<f>ov altiva). 


positor. St. Matthew's version of it is certainly an account of 
something that Jesus said ; there is, indeed, no apocalyptic 
passage in the Gospels that is more certainly interwoven with 
elements that are characteristic of the Saviour. Nevertheless 
it may not be a verbatim report of His words. It is an 
elaborate piece of literary apocalypse, highly allusive, and 
showing an intimate acquaintance with the Jewish books. It 
is evidently founded on the Judgment scene in the Book of 
Enoch, and might almost be reconstructed, so far as its imagery 
and accessories go, out of the " revelation " literature. 1 

Dr. Burkitt says of this parable : " It seems to me, there 
fore, that we are really in the presence of a sort of Midrash, 
by which I mean an application of the Judgment scene in 
Enoch to enforce a particular moral " ; 2 and this is an opinion 
which we may accept. The precise terms that are used in the 
passage, therefore, cannot be held to have any doctrinal im 
portance, nor can any momentous conclusion be drawn from 
the imagery it contains. Its message is expressed in the great 
saying so characteristic of Jesus, " Inasmuch as ye did it unto 
the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me." Its 
purpose is to show that the Gentiles who have not known 
Christ are to be judged according to the measure in which they 
exhibit the spirit of love and ministry, and have served the 
Lord by serving those who are His own. The possession of 
this spirit is the very essence of the Kingdom and its blessed 
ness, while to be without it is to be an exile from the divine 
Society and an alien from the commonwealth of Christ. To 
teach this is the whole intent of the parable. 

But, even if we admit that this and some other passages 
do suggest the doctrine of Everlasting Penalty, we must agree 
that the Gehenna imagery as a whole distinctly supports the 
idea that the wicked will be destroyed. We read of tares 
being cast into the fire ; 3 and we know what happens to things 
that are thrown into a furnace. We read also of Him " who 

1 See App. II. : Judgment. 

2 Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, p. 25. For account of resemblances to 
Zoroastrian doctrine, see Mills, Avesta Eschatology, pp. 50-52. 

3 Matt. 13 30 . 



is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna," 1 and \vc 
cannot imagine any language more fitted to express annihila 
tion. Indeed, there is very little of the fire symbolism in the 
Synoptics which is not, at least, capable of being interpreted 
in this sense. And so we must admit that it is not possible 
to say that the prophecies of future punishment which appear 
in the Gospel records enforce one harmonious doctrine of 
ultimate destiny. It is true that New Testament scholars do 
sometimes make very definite assertions on this matter. We 
are told, for instance, that Jesus certainly believed that " the 
unrighteous descend to everlasting torments," and that " punish 
ment is generally conceived in the Gospels as everlasting." 
But such confident statements surprise us very much when we 
remember the state of Jewish thought in those days, and when 
we consider the evidence actually presented by the Gospels. 

3. Review. On the whole, then, a review of the New 
Testament teaching on this subject supports the opinion that 
the fire imagery is just as difficult to interpret in our sacred 
writings as it is in the Jewish books. Apostles and Evangelists 
use it to symbolise many kinds of spiritual force retributive, 
purifying, destroying. Also, their prophecies of Gehenna 
cannot be understood in a dogmatic sense without involving 
the impossible conclusion that they taught both the unending 
punishment and the utter annihilation of the wicked. In the 
case of our Lord's teaching, especially, we cannot attach 
theological importance to the terms in which He is said to 
have declared the doom of the lost. A literal method of 
exegesis is forbidden by our knowledge of contemporary forms 
of thought and by our want of assurance as to the words 
which He used. Also, it can lead to no decision regarding the 
question of ultimate destiny. If the message of Jesus has any 
light to cast on this problem, it must be found elsewhere than 
in apocalyptic sayings which convey no idea that is in the least 
complex or characteristic, or which distinguishes Him from 
other teachers of His time. 

But if we cannot deduce dogmatic results from the 

Gehenna predictions of Jesus, iior even be sure that we possess 

1 This saying is rejected by some critics. But it corresponds to Matt. 5 80 etc. 


them in His actual words, we yet cannot doubt that He did 
employ the symbol of the Everlasting Fire ; and we can see 
that it was fitted to express, in a general way, an aspect of 
His mind. It represented, for instance, that intense moral 
indignation and implacable enmity which was so marked a 
feature of His attitude to certain sins, such as pretence, 
cruelty, treachery, and the oppression of the weak. It 
embodied, also, His belief in future Judgment and the retri 
butive wrath of God. But chiefly, perhaps, it expressed His 
sense of the pity and terror of spiritual loss. He referred 
often to that which was lost as the most sad and tragic of all 
things in His eyes, and in the sight of God and of His angels. 
He thought more of what men might lose than of what they 
might suffer. That they should miss the good of life and fail 
of the Kingdom was a possibility that had for Him every 
attribute of dread and sorrow. An existence without the 
spirit of love and without communion with God was, to His 
mind, death, perdition, and Gehenna. Thus His apocalyptic 
judgments exhibit a very stern aspect of His message. He 
believed in the penalties of sin and in the danger that besets 
the moral life ; and He expressed this belief through the 
imaginative form that lay to His hand, the austere and terrible 
image of the Everlasting Fire. His was a mind that trans 
muted every old and common thought into the pure sim 
plicity of truth. And He saw the ancient vision of Gehenna 
cleansed of all that was cruel and base, and become the perfect 
symbol of the spotless fear of -God. 



1. Popular belief in primitive Church. (a) There can be 
little doubt that the Christians of the post- Apostolic Church 
held the doctrine of future punishment in the form which 
distinguished popular Jewish belief rather than New Testa 
ment teaching. Gibbon, with characteristic irony, numbers 


among the things that explain the triumph of Christianity the 
intensity with which it taught the everlasting torment of the 
wicked. Pagans were naturally impressed, he says, by the 
claims of a Gospel which professed to be the only means of 
salvation from the flames of hell. " The primitive Church 
delivered over without hesitation to eternal torture the far 
greater part of the human species." " The careless Polytheist 
was very frequently terrified and subdued by the menace of 
eternal tortures." 1 

(&) Such is Gibbon's account of the early Christian doctrine ; 
and we must admit that it is not without truth, in so far at 
least as the popular belief was concerned. The recorded 
sayings of the martyrs of our faith leave us in little doubt as 
to this. These sayings prophesy with the utmost clearness 
the fate that awaits all who reject or betray Christianity. 
The threats and warnings addressed by the followers of Jesus 
to their persecutors and judges bear, indeed, a startling 
resemblance to the sayings of the martyrs of Judah as these 
are given in the Books of the Maccabees. 

As illustration of this, take these warnings addressed by 
the seven Jewish martyrs to the tyrant Antiochus : " You, for 
the wicked and despotic slaughter of us all, shall, by the divine 
vengeance, endure eternal torture by fire." "The divine 
vengeance is reserving you for eternal fire, and torments that 
shall cling to you to all time " : 2 and compare these with the 
following sayings of Christian witnesses : " All who do not 
profess Christ to be very God shall be sent into eternal fire." 
"Although thou usest more grievous torments thou injurest 
me in no wise, but providest for thine own soul eternal 
torments." " Thou canst not injure me by thy torments, but 
providest for thine own soul inextinguishable fires." " Lest I 
fall into eternal fire and perpetual torments, I worship God 
and His Christ." " I fear not thy temporary fire ; but I fear, 
if I give way to thee, that I may become partaker of His 
eternal fire." 3 

1 Decline and Fall, vol. i. chap. xv. sec. 2. 

2 4 Mace. 9 12 12 . 

3 Cf. Puscy, What is of Faith, etc., pp. 154-171. 


These sayings of the martyrs show quite clearly that early 
Christians held the old Eschatology, and held it in the old 
spirit. The Church was for them what the Chosen People 
had been for the patriots of Israel. It was God's peculiar 
possession, His favoured Kingdom. Within its walls were 
eternal life and peace ; beyond its borders were spiritual death 
and everlasting doom. As many of the Jews had believed all 
the Gentile world to be hastening towards the Pit of fire, so 
numbers of the primitive Christians affirmed that all who 
where outside the Church were appointed to Gehenna torments. 
And there can be little doubt that, as Gibbon suggests, this 
belief was a source of valour and endurance. It presented to 
the imagination vivid forms of supernatural hope and fear, 
which helped men to despise the promises and to overcome the 
terrors of earthly joy and pain. 

(c) We cannot, however, agree that this popular creed was 
dogmatic in the sense that it represented the fruits of reflection 
or was adopted as the result of deliberate thought about the 
problem of destiny. Popular forms of belief are always 
extreme, and are, indeed, not so much thoughts as symbols. 
In order to know what any faith really means, one must consult 
the utterances of its educated teachers. And when we turn 
to the works of the early Christian Fathers, we find that the 
imagery of the Eternal Fire had, to begin with, no very fixed 
or definite meaning. It is used, for instance, by Irenaeus and 
Justin Martyr, whose teaching as to final destiny is so doubtful 
that it is quoted by modern authorities in support now of one 
theory and now of another. And even in somewhat later days, 
traces of this original vagueness of meaning are found in 
Tertullian, Origen, and Arnobius. These all refer to " the 
eternal fire " ; but for Tertullian it signifies everlasting torment, 
for Origen universal restoration, and for Arnobius the destruc 
tion of the wicked. These references suffice to indicate that 
the popular Christian belief of primitive times was little more 
speculative than the older Jewish doctrine, and represented 
just the traditional thought that utter defeat and destruction 
awaited all the enemies of the Kingdom. 

2. Dogmatic development. The mention of the Fathers, 


however, suggests to us how soon dogma began to invade the 
territory of Apocalypse. And this process of invasion went 
on until the old imaginative symbolism wan compelled to 
surrender its proper office and become the instrument of one 
determinate doctrine. That this was an unhappy development 
one can hardly doubt unhappy in its effects both on popular 
religion and theological thinking. 

(1) Popular presentations. In order to illustrate its effect 
on popular belief, we must study the literature of the times 
during which the doctrine of everlasting torments exercised its 
fully developed power. Throughout many ages the minds of 
theologians were in a state of chronic eschatological intoxica 
tion. Their imagination rejoiced in pictures of torment and 
woe. It displayed the morbid activity, the inebriated 
ingenuity, of the opium-eater. The Catholic mystic, Suso, 
thus expresses himself : " Alas, misery and prison, thou must 
last for ever ! Oh eternity, what art thou ? Oh end without 
end ! Oh Death which is above every death, to die every hour 
and yet not to be able ever to die ! Oh separation, everlasting 
separation, how painful thou art ! Oh the wringing of hands ! 
Oh the sobbing, sighing, weeping, unceasing howling and 
lamenting, yet never to be pardoned ! " a And this utterance is 
not an extreme example of the style which prevailed among 
Eoman preachers of all schools during "the Ages of Faith." 
The tedious minuteness of Dante's descriptions when he deals 
with the varied torments of the Inferno are typical of the 
" insane licence " which the Christian imagination allowed 
itself when it dwelt on the future state of retribution that 
state concerning which we, in point of fact, have no definite 
knowledge at all. Nor was the tone of Protestant discourse 
during many generations very different in temper from that of 
the Eoman. Preachers of great repute for sanctity and zeal 
painted their pictures of Gehenna in colours of a crude 
vulgarity. Their imagery revealed often a singular acquaint 
ance with the worst horrors of human life. They depicted the 
future state of the masses of men as one of a torture like that 
of the rack or the vivisection table, protracted to all eternity. 
1 Cf. Hagenbaoh, History of Doctrines, vol. ii. p. Ifil. 


It was a state of every nameless outrage, of every agony and 
shame, of every unendurable wrong. And over all this scene 
of sordid cruelty the saints of heaven watched, and were glad. 
Any one who desires to have full and copious illustration of 
this kind of frenzied assertion need only consult the sermons 
of many popular teachers, from the time of Tertullian on to 
the present day. 

The investigation of this type of prophecy is the most dis 
tasteful duty that is involved in the study of the doctrine of 
Immortality. Of course, the Church in its corporate capacity 
is not responsible for the excesses of individuals ; and in its 
official statements regarding perdition it has been very guarded 
and reserved. Still, it is surprising to contemplate the indulg 
ence which ecclesiastical authorities have shown in their 
attitude to those who have allowed themselves unwarranted 
liberty in depicting the torments of the lost. This aspect of 
popular teaching has done more, perhaps, than anything else to 
provoke a revolt against the whole Christian view of the world ; l 
and yet we have never heard of a man being charged with 
heresy on account of the severity of his eschatological predic 
tions. The truth is that such presentations as I have referred 
to bear no peculiar mark of Christianity at all. They differ 
in no important respect from those found in ancient pagan 
mythologies. They, also, surpass the Jewish Apocalypses in 
their own line. They out-Enoch Enoch. They repeat the 
doctrine of the old " revelation " writers, but with a harder 
dogmatic meaning, and with, an inhuman emphasis unknown 
to the fanatics of Judah. 2 

(2) Tertullian, Origen. (a) Let us turn, however, from this 
unhappy aspect of popular Christian teaching, and see how the 
gradual combination of the Gehenna doctrine with a dogma of 
Eternal Evil wrought confusion and trouble in the field of 
scientific theology. The dogmatic period in the history of any 
doctrine begins when its precise meaning becomes matter for 
debate, and different interpretations come to find exponents. 

1 Cf. Shelley, Queen Mob, 6. 

2 For illustration of this type of teaching, see Alger, History of Doctrine of 
Future Life, pp. 508-520. Also Pollok, Course of Time, Book I. pp. 8-12. 


By the end of the second century the apocalyptic idea of 
future penalty had undoubtedly reached this stage of develop 
ment, since Tertullian not only paints vivid pictures of 
torment, but definitely asserts that "Not all men will be 
saved." This is a statement that clearly implies a controversial 
atmosphere. No one would think of saying, " Not all men will 
be saved." x unless some people had asserted the opposite. In 
like manner, his saying that " the fire of hell will burn yet not 
consume, like the fire of volcanoes," 2 may reasonably be read 
as a denial of the annihilation of the wicked. Tertullian thus 
definitely adopts a fixed view of human destiny, and maintains 
it against those who say that all men will be saved, and against 
those also who assert that some will be utterly destroyed. 

(Z>) Origen, on the other hand, uses the fire imagery to 
present his doctrine of Universal salvation. The eternal fire, 
according to his teaching, is, in the first place, a thing created 
within the soul by its own evil deeds and thoughts. Just as 
poisonous humours in the body produce at length fever, so sin 
in the soul kindles an inward torment and anguish. This is the 
dreadful internal Gehenna which the sinner creates for himself 
retributive and destructive. But after this penal flame has 
done its work of punishment and desolation within the soul, G-od 
applies to it another fire which produces in the end restoration 
and health. He says : " When the dissolution and rending 
asunder of the soul shall have been tested by the application 
of fire, a solidification into a firmer structure will undoubtedly 
take place and a restoration be effected." 3 

Now, Origen's way of interpreting the fire imagery has in 
it beauty and fitness, since all the poetic and worthy thoughts 
which we naturally associate with fire suggest purifying, renew 
ing, and destroying power. And this is the interpretation that 
the Church embodied in its doctrine of Purgatory, which has 
always afforded practical relief from the pressure of the Gehenna 
dogma. We may conjecture that the devout Roman Catholic 
does not really hold himself to be in danger of hell. He has 
been regenerated in baptism, and he is kept in spiritual health 

1 Adv. Mare. ii. 24. '* Apologia, 48. 

* Dt Principiis, Lib. II. cap. x. 5. 


by sacramental grace. He is thus in small peril of eternal 
loss. Further, he is seldom called to face the thought that his 
beloved dead are entered into everlasting perdition, since the 
same faith which gives him hope for himself gives light to his 
thoughts about them. It is really the temporary pain of 
Purgatory that is the actual object of his fears, both for himself 
and for his friends. He also cherishes a large hope for the 
non-Catholic masses of men on the ground of God's "un- 
covenanted mercies " and of His power to turn souls to repent 
ance in the very moment of dissolution. So that, generally 
speaking, the thought of perdition does not hold a large place 
in his religious life, being really supplanted by the idea of 
Purgatory. This peculiarity of Catholic faith is illustrated by 
the fact that throughout the Middle Ages the terror which lay 
like a black cloud over the popular mind was the fear not of 
Hell, whose pains though endless were remote, but of Purgatory, 
with its temporary but dreadful and imminent fires. We 
must remember, also, that the suffering of Purgatory itself is 
a very modified thing in the belief of many Eomans. How 
tender and reverent the Catholic thought of the Intermediate 
State may be illustrated in Newman's Dream of Gferontius, 
where the angel who commits the soul to its place of punish 
ment says : 

" Farewell, but not for ever ! brother dear, 

Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow ; 
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here, 
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow." 

(3) Augustine. But, while Origen's interpretation of the 
fire imagery was thus perpetuated in the idea of Purgatory, it 
was not allowed to extend itself to the doctrine of final penalty. 
And that this was so may be attributed mainly to the influ 
ence of Augustine, whose imperial mind and power of clear, 
rhetorical statement enabled him to leave an indelible stamp on 
the general thought of the Church. He was not, of course, the 
first to identify the apocalyptic vision of Gehenna with the 
theory of Unending Evil, but he expressed this view with fresh 
mastery, decision, and force. He tried to give it an assured 


place in a rational scheme of things ; and he certainly secured 
for it a long reign in the popular theology of Christendom. 

(a) Great, however, as was the success of Augustine in this 
matter, one can hardly feel that it was altogether merited. 
The passage in the City of God which deals with the subject oi' 
perdition is perhaps the weakest part of that great book. 
Augustine's philosophical opinions could not really be reconciled 
with Jewish forms of thought, and a literal interpretation of 
these forms was alien to his habit of mind. It is true that, by 
a superb exertion of force and ingenuity, he contrived to bring 
Enoch into apparent agreement with Plotinus, and to erect on 
a Greek foundation a Jewish eschatology. But a close ex 
amination of the structure reveals the essential incongruity of 
its various elements. Indeed, his eschatological statement 
resembles one of those curious trees which are produced by 
grafting a stem on an alien root. In such a plant we discover 
branches which come directly from the root and are altogether 
different in leafage and blossom from those which belong to 
the ingrafted stem. And so in Augustine's doctrine we find 
elements which pertain to his Neo-Platonist philosophy and 
which harmonise ill with those forms that own another origin. 

(b) Augustine, of course, maintained the doctrine of Ever 
lasting Punishment, and argued at some length against the 
Universalists of his day ; though he never suggested that these 
were not entitled to a place in the Church, and had nothing 
worse to say about them than that they were " perversely com 
passionate." He teaches that the fire of Gehenna, though not 
that of the Intermediate State, is a material flame, and that 
the lost will be furnished with bodies able, like the salamander, 
to live for ever in the furnace. He associates this doctrine, 
also, with a high theory of predestination, and thus conforms 
entirely to the traditions of Apocalypse. 

(c) Matters, however, assume a somewhat different aspect 
when we come to consider all this in the light of Augustine's 
philosophical postulates and his general thought about things. 
No idea is more prominent in Augustine's system than that of 
the harmony and beauty of the Universe, and the essential, 
permanent goodness of everything that God has made. In 


consonance with this doctrine, he denies to evil the attribute 
of positive existence. The good was, in his view, the only real, 
and sin was merely negative a privation, a defect of the will. 
Oil this ground he evades the necessity of accounting for its 
beginning, maintaining that a thing which has no real exist 
ence, which is a defect or perversion, can have no origin. 
Hence he affirms that all moral creatures are, and must remain, 
in their nature good. If they became evil they would, of 
necessity cease to be, inasmuch as evil itself belongs to the 
realm of the non-existent. This is true even of devils and lost 
souls. It is in virtue of that in them which is good that they 
continue to exist, and that they suffer regret and spiritual 

Now all this is, surely, difficult to reconcile with Augustine's 
eschatology. If sin be possessed of nothing more than a 
negative existence, how can we be sure that it will be immortal ? 
If even lost souls remain essentially good, how can we be 
certain that they will never repent and find salvation ? What 
place has everlasting torment in a Universe of perfect harmony 
and beauty ? 

(d) It is not difficult, of course, to see how Augustine met 
these difficulties ; but a consideration of his way of doing this 
suggests doubts as to the orthodoxy of his doctrine at least 
from the modern point of view. If we ask how he could 
believe that evil had no real existence, and yet that it was 
certainly immortal, the answer is that he did not affirm the 
eternity of sin, but only of 'punishment. It is true that he 
does not explicitly deny that sin will last for ever. But we do 
not find in the City of God any suggestion that he thought of 
the future state as one in which men continue in active rebel 
lion against the Most High. The moral history of a man was 
ended when he was condemned at the Judgment ; and eternity 
was, for him, only a perpetual reaping of the harvest he had 
sown in this earthly life ; it was a state of simple retribution. 

If, again, we inquire how Augustine could be sure that the 
lost, while remaining essentially good, would yet never repent, 
the reply is that this conclusion followed from his belief that 
moral life, in the case of the unregenerate, did not go on beyond 


the grave. They were destined by the decree of God to enter 
a condition of spiritual paralysis, and to have no consciousness 
beyond that of consuming pain, physical and mental. And 
beings who existed in such a state were, of course, incapable of 

If, finally, we press the objection that Augustine's belief in 
the sovereignty of God and in the perfect harmony of the 
universe was inconsistent with the doctrine of everlasting evil, 
we find that he escaped this difficulty by affirming that eternal 
penalty was not an evil but a good. The unending existence 
of pain could be attributed to the will of the Holy One, because 
it was the righteous punishment of evil ; and it could be 
regarded as an element in the beauty of creation, since it 
supplied the place of shadow in a great picture, and since it 
represented a perfectly beautiful thing, the justice of God. 
" God would never have created man, whose future wickedness 
He foreknew, unless He had equally known to what uses in 
behalf of the good He could turn him, thus embellishing the 
course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with 
antitheses." That is to say, man even in his fallen state, and 
in all his sufferings, remains part of the divine order and con 
tributes to its beauty his evil establishing by contrast the 
loveliness of virtue, and his penal sufferings illustrating to all 
eternity the austere splendour of the divine justice. Thus, 
even as Heaven is the perpetual manifestation of God's mercy, 
so Hell is the unending apocalypse of His righteousness. It 
is an element in the foreordained harmony of things, and a 
perpetual witness to the beauty of God. 

(e) Now this is, I think, a fair account of Augustine's 
doctrine as contained in the City of God, 1 his most mature and 
deliberate work. And it supports the view that the notion of 
Everlasting Torment was no necessary part of his system. It 
owes its place in his teaching to that respect for tradition 
which led him to accept the imagery of Apocalypse. That 
imagery was utterly unsuited to the part which he assigned to 
it. He claims it as an element of harmony in his presentation 
of the universe ; but it is in its nature so aggressive and highly 

1 Civitas Dei, Lib. 21, c. 9 H'. 


coloured that it holds our attention and proclaims his whole 
picture a discord. It is quite intractable to his purpose ; 
refuses to assume a reasonable guise, or to lend itself to his 
philosophical intentions. It remains alien to his thought, and 
goes far to rob it of moral force or intellectual appeal. 

(/) It is, indeed, quite apparent that Augustine never had 
any imaginative understanding of what was meant by the 
phrase " everlasting torment by fire." If he had, he would 
not have been capable of defending it with a smooth and easy 
eloquence. It is difficult to be patient with the inhuman 
urbanity of the Bishop of Hippo when he discourses elegantly 
of the value of human suffering in embellishing the ages by 
supplying an artistic shadow in the spectacle of the world. 
We detect, also, the doctrinaire ruthlessness of academic 
dogmatism in his talk about the beauty of an everlasting 
torture-chamber, and his sneer at the "perversely compas 
sionate" people who disliked the thought of it. These are 
features of his discussion which we very properly resent. It 
is vain to suggest that such want of human pity was 
characteristic of his time, since his own argument shows that 
many of his contemporaries saw as clearly as we do the revolt 
ing nature of the Gehenna doctrine. That so great a spiritual 
genius as Augustine failed of a like perception is final proof 
that the apocalyptic idea of Hell was not a thing that he saw 
as it was in its concrete reality. It was just a traditional 
form, not suited to the uses of his mind. It was, indeed, but 
little more than the algebraic- symbol of an unknown quantity. 
It is probable that all that was really vital to his belief, or 
could be reconciled with his philosophy, is to be found in his 
immortal words of devotion " Thou, God, hast made us for 
Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." 
The substance of his thought regarding the fate of those who 
might suffer final exclusion from the Kingdom was that an 
eternity without God must be an unspeakable burden of rest 
less misery for beings whom He had created for Himself. 




1. Newman, Puscy. (a) It thus appears that Augustine 
failed in adapting Apocalypse to the purposes of rational theory ; 
and it is certain that no later writer has succeeded in the task 
which lie attempted. Koman Catholic theologians have always 
continued to use his language, and to speak of " perpetual 
torments by fire." Even Moehler, a most acute and liberal 
writer, refers to the denial of everlasting torments as if that 
were an almost incredible degree of heresy. Nevertheless all 
these thinkers are found to make admissions which involve 
them in contradiction, and even render doubtful the sense in 
which they really hold the accepted dogma. I shall have 
occasion to illustrate this in the case of the medieval Doctors 
when we come to discuss the theological theory of Everlasting 
Evil. But it is not less marked in the work of those modern 
writers who adhere to the ancient tradition. Thus, Newman 
maintains the old doctrine in a literal form, and he expounds 
it in some of his sermons with excessive violence ; but in the 
Grammar of Assent l he recognises its difficulty, and indeed 
goes a long way towards rejecting it. He suggests that there 
may be no sense of continuity in the minds of the lost, so that 
they shall not be aware of a past or a future of pain ; also that 
occasional intervals of cooling (refrigeria) may be granted the 
victims of the Eternal Fire so that their punishment, though 
it will be everlasting, may not be without a break. But this 
latter assertion surely savours of heresy. Evidently a suffering 
that has intervals of cessation is so far from being endless that 
it has many ends. No dialectical skill avails to show that 
successive paroxysms of pain with intervals of ease are the 
same thing as one perpetual anguish. There is also some 
thing unreal in the idea that the lost are, as it were, lifted out 
of the fire from time to time and granted a period of coolness. 
It conceives of penalty not as an inward condition due to the 
1 P. 422, and Note III. in Appendix. 


action of moral law, but as a thing imposed from without, and 
so capable of being relieved by the exercise of external power. 
That Newman should have been constrained to support such a 
conception shows that the Gehenna imagery is apt to betray 
the dogina which it is expected to represent and defend. 

(5) Dr. Pusey begins his treatise on Everlasting Punish 
ment with the statement that he believes literally in everlast 
ing fire. 1 But, having done this, he proceeds to surround his 
doctrine with so many qualifications that we are left in some 
doubt whether any one is likely to sutler perdition. Of those 
who die in infancy all the baptized are saved, while the un- 
baptized enjoy endless natural happiness. All the heathen 
who have in them any good thing, when judged by their own 
standard, receive the benefits of Christ's redemption, as do also 
the heathen at home. Finally, no one is lost who does not 
" obstinately to the end and at the end reject God " ; and great 
hope is to be placed in God's dealing with souls in the 
mysterious hour of dissolution, " the almost sacrament of 
death." The remarkable thing about Pusey 's really noble 
statement is that while he asserts everlasting torment in 
literal fire, he also says that there will be degrees of punish 
ment, and that the main burden of perdition will be the want 
of the divine presence, which, he holds, will be punishment 
enough. 2 Surely this is doctrine hard to be believed. How 
can there be degrees of punishment in a furnace of tire ? Also, 
if an eternity without God be penalty enough, why should 
there be added to it the pain -of physical torture ? Altogether, 
it is plain that for Pusey, as for others who seek to dogmatise 
Apocalypse, the notion of everlasting torment was only a form 
of thought. Whoever says that any mental anguish can be 
the supreme sorrow of a- creature who is being tortured in 
living flame, fails to grasp the meaning of his own imagery, 
and is using strong words without sense. 

2. But there is no need to illustrate further the truth that 
the old Gehenna belief is intractable to dogmatic interpreta 
tion, and has never been anything but a perplexity to those 
who have tried to make it a doctrine of ultimate destiny. A 

1 What is of Faith, etc., Preface. 2 Ibid. pp. 1-23. 


rigorous and literal rendering of its message is impossible. 
Nothing can be a help to rational theory which is itself 
incapable of being grasped by the reason ; and torment without 
end is not conceivable by any mind of man. Just as the glare 
of a stupendous furnace would paralyse the sight of one who 
faced it with open eyes, so the Gehenna doctrine destroys all 
definite impression in the mind that considers it. Nothing is 
left but a vague blur of confused horror. 



1. I have thus endeavoured to trace the process by which 
the ancient vision of Judgment was transformed into a 
determinate doctrine of everlasting torment, and to show that 
this was in the main an unfortunate and illegitimate develop 
ment, perplexing the work of the theologian and leading to the 
disfigurement of Christian eschatology. I have sought to 
illustrate the position that the Gehenna symbolism had no 
ascertainable meaning either in the Jewish books or in the 
New Testament beyond the general assertion of future retribu 
tion, and that later attempts to identify it with a rational 
theory of the End have signally failed of success. Imaginative 
expressions that were fitted to the aims of poetic prophecy are 
alien to the purposes of formal dialectic. The wild horses of 
apocalypse were never meant to be yoked to the heavy chariot 
of dogma. 

2. We must recognise, indeed, that it was by constraint of 
historical circumstance that the imagery in question came to 
be imposed upon theology. ' The Gehenna belief became part 
of the popular Christian faith through the strength of the 
apocalyptic tradition, and through the storm and stress of the 
early days of the Church's life. The imagery of the eternal 
fire was presented to the common mind while as yet it had no 
dogmatic force ; and it commended itself to men as a part of 
that pictorial message of vivid hopes and fears which received 


its best expression in the Revelation of St. John, and which 
appealed with singular power to a persecuted, despised, and 
humble people. One can see, also, that this imagery, in its 
indefinite popular meaning, did correspond to certain require 
ments of moral truth. If it had a dark significance, it dealt 
with a dark subject, the consequences of evil. If it was fierce 
and hopeless in its spirit, the penalties of sin are the fiercest 
things in our experience, and conscience often finds a hopeless 
element in life. 

In any case, the popular acceptance of this symbolism was 
so general that it had to be employed by theologians, who were 
for the most part preachers and ecclesiastics as well as abstract 
thinkers. And thus the idea that the doom of the unre- 
generate was unending physical torment was not the result of 
careful thought, but was the fruit of an old inheritance. It 
did not owe its origin to the Christian genius, or to any great 
principle of the Gospel, but to the symbols of an ancient 
tradition, distorted and misapplied. 

It is only along this line of thought that we can offer any 
apologia for this feature of the Church's eschatology a feature 
which has been often described in terms that are very good 
rhetoric but very poor history. Those scholars who maintain 
that the Gehenna imagery had a dogmatic meaning both in the 
Jewish books and in the message of Jesus, and that later 
theology correctly interpreted that meaning, are dangerous 
allies of the orthodox 1 apologist. They compel us, either to 
reject the teaching of our Lord, or to attempt the defence of 
an incredible doctrine. The effect of their contention is not to 
conserve but, to destroy ; it presents an impossible picture of 
the mind of Christ, and affords material for the exposition of a 
crude and popular form of unbelief. It is for this reason, 
indeed, that it is worth one's while to give to this matter 
careful consideration from the historical point of view. 

3. It thus appears that the ancient prophecy of Retribution 
lends itself even less than the other apocalyptic forms to rigid 
theological definition. But, like these also, it has abiding 
authority and value as the poetic expression of enduring truth. 
Fire has always been the emblem of religious thoughts and 


spiritual realities; shining on the altar of every faith; tho 
type of things which do not pass away. And the image of the 
Eternal Fire, as justly and purely conceived, ought never to 
lose that aspect of imaginative greatness which belonged to it 
in the beginning, and which it doubtless wore for the mind of 
Jesus. It should never have suggested to men petty thoughts 
of cruelty and pain. Fire inflicts lingering torments only when 
it is weak and small. Omnipotent flame does not excruciate 
and agonise ; it purifies and destroys. It is the noblest of all 
the elemental forces ; too strong to be cruel, too swift to defile. 
Hence a white flame is the best symbol known to men of the 
unspotted holiness of God, whose " fear is clean, enduring for 
ever," whose " pure love is the only eternal fire." And hence, 
too, the enduring fitness of that vision of the retributive Flame, 
which is older than Christianity, older than Judaism, older 
than any faith whose records remain on the earth. That 
vision is true. It has sight of an austere force which guards 
the moral law ; of an ever-living energy which tests the gold, 
and consumes the wood and the hay and the stubble and all 
things that offend. It is the apocalypse of a righteous Majesty 
that goes forth in judgment against all who profane the ways 
of life, violate the sanctities of nature, oppose the sovereign will 
that moves without rest and without haste to its appointed 
end. Who shall deny that this is a wise and faithful witness, 
or that the symbol in which it is -uttered is suited to its theme ? 
It may be that only ignorance and superstition can speak of 
unceasing torments, or an endless infliction of meaningless 
pain; but it is sober reason and experience that discern an 
uttermost terror in the moral Order, that see in > the spiritual 
universe an Everlasting Fire. 





I HAVE had occasion in preceding chapters to make reference 
to Jewish Opinion on the subject of final destiny. Indeed, the 
apocalyptic doctrine as to the fate of the lost has been so fully 
illustrated that no further account of it is necessary. It may 
be well, however, to preface the second part of this discussion, 
especially the consideration of New Testament teaching, with 
a brief statement of the views held by certain writers who 
stood apart from the purely prophetic and imaginative tradition 
represented by Enoch. The question is whether the utterances 
of these latter authorities contain any more coherent or 
dogmatic belief than is to be found in the " revelation " books. 
In pursuing this inquiry, it will be necessary to refer (1) to the 
historian Josephus ; (2) to the Jewish Alexandrians, especially 
Philo ; and (3) to the Rabbinic teaching. 

Josephus (born about 38 A.D.). This very able, though not 
perhaps very admirable, person tells us that the Pharisees held 
the doctrine of everlasting punishment. " The Pharisees . . . 
hold," he says, " that every soul is imperishable, but that the 
souls of the good alone go into another body, while those of 
the bad are punished with everlasting vengeance." 1 In 
another place he defines the Pharisaic idea of Future Punish 
ment as " perpetual imprisonment." Yet again, he states his 
own personal belief in the following terms " the soul is a 
portion of the Deity which inhabits our body " ; ..." Pure and 
obedient souls obtain a most holy place in Heaven from whence 
in the revolution of the ages they are again sent into pure 
bodies." 2 It is to be noted, also, that he was acquainted with 

1 Antiquities, xviii. i. 3. 2 Wars of Jews, HI. viii. 5. 



the idea of conditional immortality ; for he affirms that Titus 
declared to his soldiers that those who died in battle secured 
for their souls a future life, while those who perished by natural 
decay or sickness passed utterly out of existence 1 which reads 
very like an excellent military version of Conditionalisrn. 

Now, this statement of Josephus is somewhat perplexing, 
since it ignores the doctrine of the Eesurrection, and depicts 
the Pharisees as believing that the wicked would suffer in the 
life to come everlasting vengeance or imprisonment, while the 
righteous would be granted the privilege of reincarnation. 
Many discredit it altogether on the ground that this historian 
deliberately omitted, as a rule, to mention such elements in his 
own faith and that of the Pharisees generally as might be dis 
pleasing to pagan readers. They also think that he must have 
been wrong in representing his countrymen as believing in re 
incarnation. It is more likely, however, that Josephus was guilty 
of nothing worse than merely attributing to the whole of the sect 
to which he belonged opinions which in fact were held only by a 
few of them. There is nothing incredible in the idea that some 
at least of the Pharisees held the doctrine of the reincarnation of 
souls or that this was the view of Josephus, since that doctrine 
was not, after all, very far removed from the common Jewish 
notion of resurrection to a bodily life on earth. We may 
conclude, also, that the historian held liberal and indefinite 
views about the future state from his extremely sympathetic 
account of the Essenes, who denied the resurrection, and 
taught that souls at death escaped from the body, as from a 
prison, and returned to that state of liberty in which they had 
existed before they became incarnate. In any case, the state 
ment of this writer shows that a man could believe himself an 
orthodox Pharisee and yet feel at liberty to speculate freely on 
the subject of future destiny. 

Philo Judaeus (B.C. 20-A.D. 50). The chief writer of the 
Alexandrian school was, of course, Philo, a thinker of great 
power and influence, a man of wide learning and spiritual in 
sight, a master of clear, and often elevated, expression. He was 
a contemporary of Jesus, and was the chief exponent of that 
1 Wars of Jews, vi. i. 5. 


Hellenistic type of thought whose influence is evident in 
the New Testament writings. Hence he is a thinker whose 
teaching it is desirable to understand. But the interpretation 
of his doctrine is, unfortunately, very difficult. He, as an 
important member of the highly privileged Jewish colony in 
Alexandria, had access to the stores of learning contained in 
the library of that city, and was brought into contact with 
various types of Gentile thought. The result of this is 
apparent in his work. The various influences in his mind 
keep compromising, thwarting, and contradicting each other. 
He tries to be as much of a Platonist as he can, while retaining 
elements of Stoicism and continuing loyal to his Jewish faith ; 
and the consequence of this is considerable confusion. As a 
Platonist he should have affirmed the eternity of the soul ; but 
his Judaism would not permit this, so he contented himself 
with asserting its pre-existence. His individualism, derived 
from the Stoics, is inconsistent with the doctrine of the 
Kingdom of God. The influence of his Greek masters leads 
him to teach that God is separated from the world by inter 
mediate beings, and that He created it through the Logos ; but 
his loyalty to the Jewish belief in revelation causes him to affirm 
that God makes Himself known directly to the souls of men. 
His Platonism destroys his belief in the Resurrection, and his 
doctrine of the Fall in Adam is not reconcilable with his notion 
of pre-existence, which is coloured by Gentile conceptions. 

All souls, according to Philo, enjoyed in the beginning a 
life of communion with God, and only those with a downward 
tendency were attracted towards a bodily life. Hence, exist 
ence in this world is, in his view, a kind of purgatory, partly 
penal and partly probationary. Souls which follow after 
philosophy and piety return at death to their original state of 
blessedness. They escape as from an evil prison-house, achiev 
ing immortality. On the other hand, souls that fall under the 
dominion of the earthly life pass from this world into perdition ; 
death is for them " the beginning of sorrows." 

So far the doctrine of Philo is clear. When, however, we 
ask what his view was as to the final destiny of lost souls, we 
encounter much perplexity. Considering his philosophical 


opinions, one might have expected him to adopt the idea of 
Transmigration, and to teach that the wicked, after a period 
of punishment in the unseen world, returned again to the 
earth to endure another trial. 1 He was, however, precluded 
from taking this view by his Jewish orthodoxy especially by 
his belief that terrestrial history would culminate ere long in 
the Kingdom of God, And so he taught that, for the good 
and evil alike, death was the final end of bodily existence. 
How, then, did he picture to himself the ultimate doom of the 
unspiritual multitude beyond the grave ? 

A common interpretation is that Philo, like some other 
Alexandrian Jews, held the doctrine of everlasting torment ; 8 
but it does not seem to me that the evidence for this view 
is conclusive. Thus, some authorities quote a saying in the 
treatise Concerning Eewards and Punishments : " That he 
should live continually dying, and that he should in a manner 
endure an undying and never ending death." 3 This saying, 
however, refers to the curse of Cain and to his punishment in 
this life. It appears, also, from another passage that Philo 
believed that Cain was doomed, like the Wandering Jew of 
legend, to move ever restlessly hither and thither on the earth, 
denied the boon of death. Hence this utterance can hardly 
be held to refer to the fate of the lost in general. 

The other passage commonly cited is from the treatise 
Concerning the CJierubim, and is as follows : " He who is cast 
out by God must endure an eternal banishment, for it is granted 
to him who has not yet been completely and violently taken 
prisoner by wickedness, to repent, and so to return to virtue 
from which he has been driven, as to his great country ; but 
he who is weighed down by, and wholly subjected to, a violent 
and incurable disease, must bear his misfortunes for ever, being 
for all times unalterably cast out into the place of the wicked, 
that there he may endure unmitigated and everlasting misery." * 

1 Fairweather (Background of the Gospels, p. 360) says that Philo expects 
the wicked at death to "return into another body." But I cannot find this 
in Philo. 

2 Cf. Charles (Eschatology , pp. 313, 314) ; Drummond (Philo, ii. pp. 321-323). 

3 DC Proem, et Poen. 12. * i. 1. 


The context shows, however, that this refers to the ex 
pulsion of our first parents from Paradise. Taken literally it 
would mean that Adam and Eve, and presumably all their 
descendants, were doomed without hope to everlasting misery. 
But this is certainly not Philo's teaching. He tells us, for 
instance, that the Logos is God's security to the human race 
that it will not revolt altogether from Him, and that the 
Creator will not forget His own creatures. 1 On the whole, it 
seems possible that he means to describe here the fate of the 
race on this earth, and refers to its restless, painful, evil exist 
ence, doomed never to know a return to the Paradise it has lost. 

But even if we waive this question, and agree that this 
and some other sayings of Philo point to the doctrine of ever 
lasting torment, we cannot exclude from view other utterances 
of his which bear a different import. Thus, to quote one out 
of many passages of a similar kind, he says : " If any one burns 
with a desire of virtue which makes the soul immortal, he, 
beyond doubt, attains to an heavenly inheritance ; but . . . 
the earth, as it is the beginning of a wicked and depraved man, 
so is it also his end (finis)." 2 

' This pronouncement belongs to a class of sayings which do 
seem to indicate the idea of conditional immortality ; as, for 
instance, these " Piety, by which alone the mind attains to 
immortality (immortalitatem assequitur) " ; 3 "Philosophy, by 
which man though mortal becomes immortal (airaOavart^erai)"^ 

More important, however, than any individual utterances 
of Philo is the general tendency of his thought. The most 
significant feature in his system, from this point of view, is his 
doctrine of the Logos. The Logos is a personal-impersonal 
being intermediate between the soul and God, "a model of 
the one and a copy of the other"; 5 "the soul of the world," 6 
the intercessor for mankind. 7 By it all things were created, 
and in it they cohere. It is the first-begotten Son of God, the 
Divine Reason immanent in the universe, the Mediator of all 

1 Quis Heres. 42. 2 Quest, et Solut. i. 51. 

8 Ibid. i. 10. * De Mundi Op. 25. 

5 Quis Heres. 48 (irap<iSfiy/j.a . . . 4iretK<W/xa). s De Migrat. 32. 
7 Quis Heres. 42. 


rational and moral life. It is by communion with the Logos 
alone that man maintains his contact with his original state of 
spiritual blessedness, and is capable of that virtue and philo 
sophy by which he attains immortal life. Hence, uuspiritual 
men, being out of fellowship with the Logos, are dead while 
they live ; " the unholy in real truth are dead." l They have 
surrendered all relation to reality, and have become the subjects 
of an alien power, the power of the lower, material, fleeting 
world. How then could Philo suppose that such as these 
would be able to maintain themselves in being, when those 
things which had become their real nature should have passed 
away at death ? 

Further, Philo denies the everlasting duration of sin, which, 
he says, has no place among immortal things. 2 Also he teaches 
that it is only the higher part of the soul that is in communion 
with the Logos draws from it continual vitality, and through 
it achieves unending existence. 3 And the inference from this 
is plain. If only the higher reason be immortal, and if it have 
fallen into a state of death by neglect of fellowship with the 
divine Word, in the case of unspiritual men, then it follows 
that there is nothing in these unhappy beings that is capable 
of eternal life. 

While, then, Philo does not express himself clearly on this 
subject, being, perhaps, but faintly interested in the destiny of 
the lost masses of men, it seems that the general tendency of 
his thought is towards something that resembles the idea 
of Conditional Immortality. The vagueness of his thinking 
on a theme which must have seemed to him an unwelcome 
source of trouble is reflected in the vagueness of his language. 
But, if he believed that evil men were " dead " now in ignorance 
and futility and were doomed to " death " hereafter, he must 
have regarded them as destined to find a place among the 
mere refuse and waste of the Universe. The best he can 
have expected for them was that they would remain in a 
kind of Sheol. But it is more likely that he imagined them 
as suffering the final dissolution of personality. Such an idea 

1 Quis Herts. 42. 2 De Incorr. Mundi, 21. 

3 Of. Denney, Factors of Faith in Immortality, p. 41. 


must have been familiar to him as a student of the Stoics, 
and would have heen congenial to the austerity of his mind. 
Philo, as Kuenen says, believed . not that everlasting life was 
possessed by all men, but only that " it was attainable by all." l 

Book of Wisdom, etc. But, if there is thus some doubt as 
to the nature of Philo's eschatology, and some ground for 
finding in his works a tendency towards Conditional ism, there 
can be no question that the Secrets of Enoch* and Fourth 
Maccabees 3 teach Everlasting Torment with vigour and 
decision, though without clear dogmatic intention. 

The Book of Wisdom, on the other hand, which is, next to 
the writings of Philo, the greatest work of this school, is very 
confused in its doctrine. The first part of it affirms, as does 
Philo, that the wicked have no true life. They confess at the 
Judgment " We died as soon as we were born." It also 
asserts that the punishment reserved for the unspiritual is 
" death." Whether this death signifies annihilation or no is a 
point on which authorities are hopelessly divided. It is 
doubtful whether the author knew himself what he meant. 4 
The second part, 6 on the other hand, has for its thesis that 
all punishment is remedial. And this is a doctrine which 
involves, beyond doubt, the conclusion that all men will be 
saved. If punishment in the future state be remedial it 
must issue in salvation. This conclusion is also in harmony 
with the general tone of this writing : 

"But Thou hast mercy on all men. because Thou hast power to 

do all things ; 
And Thou overlookest the sins of men to the end that they may 


For Thou lovest all things that are. . . . 
Thou sparest all things because they are Thine, 
Oh, Sovereign Lord, Thou Lover of souls." 6 

On the whole, then, it is reasonable to say that these 

1 History of Israel, vol. iii. p. 200. 

2 S. of En. 10, etc. This book is, however, apocalyptic, although influenced 
by Alexandrian thought. 

3 4 Mace. 9 9 . 4 Wisd. 2 1 ' 8 5 1 '"- 19 - *> etc. 
5 Second part, 11 seq. s H23-26. 


Alexandrian writings do contain at least the germs of all the 
later doctrines of destiny. The theory of Conditional Immor 
tality is implicit in Philo and possibly also in the first part of 
Wisdom ; Everlasting Punishment, in Fourth Maccabees and in 
the Secrets of Enoch ; Universal Salvation, in the second part 
of Wisdom. The promise of the latter doctrine is also to be 
found in Philo's teaching regarding the Logos and its universal 
relation to mankind. 1 

Habbinic teaching. When we turn to the teaching of the 
Kabbis, the professional theologians of Judaism, we find, as 
might be expected, more definite doctrine than in the 
apocalyptic books, but still a great absence of assurance. 
The collection of Kabbinic Sayings which is incorporated in 
the Jewish Liturgy contains no statement of any moment 
regarding the subject of ultimate destiny ; and the study of 
quotations gathered from the Talmud leaves one very much 
perplexed by the utter want they display of any apparent 
unity of opinion. Authorities, also, differ very widely in their 
accounts of Kabbinic doctrine. Emmanuel Deutsch, for 
instance, who possessed the unusual advantage of knowing the 
Talmud at first hand, states in the most abiSolute manner that 
the idea of an endless Hell was altogether foreign to Rabbinic 
doctrine, that according to it the duration of punishment was 
limited even for the worst of criminals, and escape from 
Gehenna into Paradise by repentance remained always a 
possibility. He even asserts that the Jews distinguished 

1 In describing an element in the thought of John and of Paul as 
"Philonic" and "Alexandrian," one means to say that these two writers were 
influenced by the "Logos" doctrine which was common to all forms of 
Hellenism, and was developed especially by Philo. The truth of this view, at 
least as stated in next chapter, is not prejudiced by the contention that Paul 
and John were indebted to the "Wisdom" tradition, illustrated in Jo)), 
Proverbs, Enoch, Wisdom of Sol. etc. (see Godet, Gospel according to 8t. John, 
i. pp. 230-241 ; Rendel Harris, Prologue to St. John's Gospel). For (1) the 
"Word" and the "Wisdom" doctrine were both held by Philo, and not 
clearly distinguished even by him. (2) This was true also, no doubt, of the 
sacred writers. (3) Col. I 16 ' 17 is unmistakeably "Philonic." (4) If Philo had 
become a disciple of Jesus, and retained his philosophy, he might have 
written the Prologue, and he would have had to adopt the Christology of 


themselves from other Semitic peoples by their protest against 
the doctrine of everlasting torment. 1 

Now these statements of Deutsch are of a startling 
character and have caused much debate. But no one has ever 
known the Talmud better than he ; and his accounts of it are 
the most vivid and inspiring that have been written ; though he 
wanted perhaps that frigid impartiality of mind that is one of 
the privileges of mediocrity. It is to be observed, also, that 
the difference between him and his critics lies chiefly in the 
interpretation of the phrase "To all generations," which is 
applied in the classical Eabbinic passage to the fate of those 
who are " signed and sealed " to perdition. 2 Deutsch under 
stands this expression in a limited sense, whereas his opponents 
take it to describe absolute endlessness. 

Dr. Pusey is at the opposite extreme from Deutsch, and 
maintains that unending suffering was the doctrine of practi 
cally all the Rabbis. 3 Edersheim, again, who shared Deutsch's 
Talmudic learning, holds that all the Rabbis at the time of 
Christ believed that some at least of the wicked would suffer 
eternal punishment. This general statement of his must, 
however, be read in the light of the evidence on which it is 
founded. 4 He shows that the rival schools of Shammai and 
Hillel, which between them represented Jewish thought in our 
Lord's day, were nearly agreed in their teaching on this 
subject. The former taught that the perfectly good are at 
death immediately "written and sealed to eternal life," the 
perfectly wicked to Gehenna, while an intermediate class " go 
down to Gehenna and moan and come up again." The school 
of Hillel asserted that sinners of Israel and of the Gentiles 
were punished in Gehenna for twelve months, after which 
" their souls are burned up and scattered as dust under the 
feet of the righteous." " But it excepts from this number 
certain classes of sinners who go down to Gehenna and are 

1 Literary Remains, pp. 53, 87. 

2 See citation of this Rabbinic passage in Farrar, Appendix to Eternal 
Hope ; also Schechter, Rabbinical Writings. 

3 What is of Faith, etc., pp. 71-98. 

* Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, pp. 791-796. 


punished there to the age of the ages." From this evidence 
Edersheim draws the conclusion that both of these schools of 
Jewish thought believed in the unending punishment of some 
sinners; but he indicates that Hillel and his followers, in 
harmony with the gentle spirit of their theology, hoped that 
the number of the lost would be small. 

Volz, the leading German authority on Jewish eschatology, 
agrees generally with Edersheim in his account of this matter. 
He says that the school of Shammai probably held that for 
ordinary sinners Gehenna would be a purgatory cleansing 
them from their defilement. The school of Hillel, he says, 
believed that for special sinners damnation would be eternal, 
but for the less heinous transgressors, temporary and ending 
in annihilation (eine zeitweilige Verdammnis, die mit der 
volligen Vernichtung endigt). He also, like Edersheim, shows 
how rapidly a mild doctrine of future punishment developed 
among the Rabbis after the time of Christ ; how Akiba taught 
that the punishment of sinners in hell would last for twelve 
months, while his contemporary, Jochanan ben Nuri, said that 
it would endure only from Passover to Pentecost. As to the 
question whether this short time of torment in Gehenna was 
expected to end in salvation or annihilation, Volz concludes : 
" Whether these learned men held that the end of the sojourn in 
Hell would be the pardon of sinners or their dissolution into 
nothingness, on this point we receive no information." x Volz 
thus differs from Edersheim only in his important contention 
that the school of Hillel, which was so powerful in the time' of 
Christ, taught that consignment to Gehenna meant, for all but the 
worst sinners, a short time of punishment ending in extinction. 

The perplexities of the account thus given by Volz, 
especially as to the fate of the intermediate class of men 
(the mittelmassigen, as he quaintly calls them), are evident. 
He describes the doctrine of Hillel as " milder " than that of 
Shammai. Yet he maintains that the former believed that 
all sinners except the worst would suffer annihilation, while 
the latter affirmed that they would experience purgatorial 
cleansing. Surely it is hard to see how the idea of purgatorial 

1 Jitdische Bscfiatologie, pp. 286-288. 


cleansing ending in release can be described as more severe 
than that of punishment issuing in annihilation. But diffi 
culties of this kind beset every attempt to give a faithful 
account of Jewish eschatology. 

On the whole, it appears that the academic, theological 
type of mind in the time of Jesus was no longer satisfied with 
that vague assertion of the general overthrow of the 
unrighteous which was the apocalyptic gospel, and was 
beginning to move towards a speculative doctrine of future 
destiny. It was not content with the prospect of the 
immediate triumph of the elect, and was seeking to attain 
some conception of the ultimate fate of mankind. Its ideas 
were still confused and uncertain, but we find in them the 
same elements of doctrine as appeared more clearly in the 
words of Akiba and other Rabbis of the second century, some 
of whom taught the annihilation and some the final pardon of 
the lost. To Hillel and his school we owe the beginnings, at 
least, of those free and bold thoughts about the Last Things 
which have generally characterised the Jewish theology 
throughout the ages. In any case, there can be no doubt that 
all the Eabbis of New Testament times believed that Gehenna 
was a state from which release was possible. They did not 
hold that every one who entered it had met his final doom, 
ftather did they hope that most of those who went down into 
the place of bondage would finally come up again. The 
Gehenna of the thoughtful Jew of those days is, therefore, not 
to be identified with the Hell of later Christian theology. If 
it was Hell, it was also Purgatory. There was no inscription 
over its gates "All hope abandon, ye who enter here." 1 

An extremely interesting picture of the state of Jewish 
thought, in some quarters, towards the end of the New 
Testament period, is presented in the Salathiel Apocalypse 
which forms the most important part of the Book of Fourth 
Ezra. This writing is called an apocalypse, but it is really a 

1 On Rabbinic teaching, cf. Stanton, Jewish and Christian Messiah, pp. 336- 
339 ; Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, p. 367 ; Farrar, Appendices 
to Eternal Hope and Mercy and Judgment. 


highly speculative, and even sceptical, polemic. Its creed is 
the darkest pessimism. The world has been created for the 
sake of Israel ; but Israel is scattered and oppressed. Of the 
Chosen People itself only a few are predestined to salvation : 
the rest of humanity is altogether without hope. For all but the 
righteous of Israel, the doom of mankind is to live a short life 
and do a little evil here, and then to pass on to unspeakable 
torments and utter destruction. " The present age the Most 
High has made for many, but the age to come for few." 1 
" Many have been created, but few shall be saved." 2 After 
this life is over, there is no hope of help or of pardon ; fathers 
may not then intercede for sons, nor sons for fathers, nor friends 
for their dearest. " Perish the multitude which has been born 
in vain." 3 

Such is the creed which Fourth Ezra professes to expound. 
But the apocalypse is really one long protest against it, one 
varied exposition of its insuperable difficulties. Salathiel 
presents his doubts and perplexities before God and His 
Angel, and receives an answer the dialogue being after the 
manner of the Book of Job. God has chosen, out of all the 
nations, Israel only, " out of all the flowers of the field, this 
one lily " ; yet Israel is rejected and scattered abroad Why is 
this ? Of Israel itself but a few are righteous and the rest go to 
destruction, so that life altogether is but a tragedy of darkness 
Why is this ? The great world, the vast multitudes, perish 
without hope; "they are counted as smoke, are comparable 
unto the flame ; they are fired, burn hotly, and are extin 
guished" Why is this? Such are the questions which the 
seer urges against the Providence of God. He argues and 
pleads with wonderful force and pathetic beauty. He can see 
no good or joy in life, no value in immortality, since such is 
the lot of man. Far better that all human beings should 
perish utterly at death than that the world to come should 
only be hopeless anguish for all but two or three. The cattle 
of the field have reason to rejoice over man, since they die and 
are at peace, while men go to torment and judgment. " For it 
is far better with them than with us; for they have no 

1 4 Ezra 8 1 . 2 8 s . 3 9 s2 . 


judgment to look for, neither do they know of any torture or 
of any salvation promised to them after death. For what does 
it profit us that we shall be preserved alive, but yet suffer 
great torment ? " 1 

Such are the appeals and questions and laments of 
Salathiel as he presents his doubts and pitiful imaginings to 
the ear of God. It cannot be said that the answers attributed 
to the Deity are at all equal in force to the questions of the 
prophet, or that these questions are really met. The divine 
reply is that man cannot understand God ; that the righteous 
of Israel shall be compensated for their sufferings in the Age 
to come ; while, as for the unfaithful Jews, their destruction 
will be no loss or grief to God. " I will not concern Myself 
about the creation of those that have sinned, or their death, 
judgment, or perdition : but I will rejoice for the creation of 
the righteous, their pilgrimage, also, their salvation and their 
recompense." 2 As for Salathiel himself, he is to cease troubling 
about the fate of mankind and be content with the thought 
that his own blessedness is sure, and his own life appointed to 
eternal joy. 

This is the answer which this apocalypse attributes to 
God; and it is an answer so insufficient, so shallow in its 
thought, so dreadful in its arrogant cruelty, that we can hardly 
suppose the author can have meant it as a serious reply to 
the questions he had raised, or as any real solution of his 
problems. One is almost led to suspect that the book is a 
covert attack on the theology it expounds. Certainly, the 
prophet does not profess himself satisfied with the answers he 
receives ; and the controversy ends without being settled. In 
any case, this wonderful and suggestive book shows how rest 
less some minds among the Jews were, how dissatisfied with 
the old exclusive view of things. It shows that some in New 
Testament times faced the problem of universal destiny and 
were troubled that they felt 

"the burden of the mystery . . . 
Of all this unintelligible world." 

1 4 Ezra 7 B - B 





WE have now completed the first part of our study, which has 
concerned itself with the apocalyptic forms of belief the 
Kingdom and Parousia, Eesurrection, Judgment, Hades and 
Gehenna. There still remain to be considered those theories 
of ultimate destiny which have found a place in Christian 
thought. In proceeding to this second portion of our task we 
are not forsaking altogether the territory of Apocalypse ; since 
the doctrines of Everlasting Evil and of Conditional Immortality 
may both be said to have their roots in Jewish thought, and 
the hope of Universal Salvation may claim to be a development 
of the Old Testament belief in an all-embracing Kingdom of 
God, as well as of the apocalyptic prophecies of St. Paul. 
Nevertheless, it is reasonable to separate this field of eschato- 
logical thought from that which has engaged our attention 
hitherto. Those theological speculations which we have now 
to discuss do not belong to the realm of ancient symbol and 
sign. They pertain to a region wherein the religious mind is 
no longer content to express itself in terms of the imagination ; 
they go beyond the mere question of judgment and retribution. 
They are endeavours to answer the ultimate question What 
is the goal to which the march of the race is tending ? What 
is to be its fate in the end of all things ? Are the evils which 
now so darkly beset humanity to endure for ever ; or has God 

reserved for it some better thing ? Does He intend, by ways 



of death or ways of life, to bring it at last to a City of eternal 
peace ? 

Of course, this is a subject which wise men often think it 
better to ignore. They dislike the discussion it involves ; and 
they advise us to leave the whole question of the End alone, in 
its universal aspect, and confine ourselves to a contemplation of 
heavenly glories and the consummation of the Kingdom. This 
view is held by many whom we all respect ; also, it is in itself 
attractive. Who would not evade the ultimate problems if he 
could ? And yet this is a position from which, on many 
grounds, there is reason to dissent. In the first place, the 
Christian Church has never agreed to be silent as to the fate 
of the lost ; the majority of its representatives have asserted 
the doctrine of Eternal Evil with vigour and decision. The 
idea that we should have nothing to say about the final fortunes 
of humanity is a recent discovery, and is due to the pressure 
of sustained criticism, both within and without the Church. 

In the second place, it is evident that we cannot expect 
our opponents to desist from attack because we find the 
conflict inconvenient. The enemies of the Faith have always 
found a suitable field of battle in the sphere of eschatology ; 
and they will not withdraw their batteries though we withhold 
our fire. Those who reject the Christian view of the world 
commonly attack, especially, the traditional doctrine of destiny ; 
and we cannot refuse to answer their protest unless we mean 
to make surrender. When they present us with long quota 
tions from our great divines," and repeat the words of our 
Confessions, and say, " This is your belief," we cannot afford to 
make no reply. 

Further, the doctrine of the End is one that cannot, in 
the nature of things, be left alone. It is essential to a complete 
presentation of truth. We may not deny this, unless we are 
prepared to say that Christianity is merely a practical message, 
intended to secure certain moral effects, and involves no 
rational " view of God and of the world." But if Christianity 
does involve sucli a view, we must at least try to state it ; and 
we cannot make that endeavour under a statute of limitations, 
or begin it with the proviso that one particular realm of thought 


is excluded from debate. Nor, indeed, could we adhere to such 
a condition, even if we laid it down. When we state the 
Christian doctrine of God, we are asked how we reconcile it 
with the painful facts of human life. In answer to this we 
assert our belief in a future state of perfect justice, retribution, 
and redress. But forthwith we are challenged to show that our 
view of immortality really secures an issue of absolute fairness 
and recompense for every soul. And so we find ourselves 
constrained to face the question we are anxious to avoid. 

Moreover, it does appear quite hopeless to expect that 
men will continue to believe in immortality, and yet be content 
with silence as to its import for our race. We see the great 
stream of human life flowing for ever into eternity : we behold 
the countless hosts of mankind passing across this little space 
of sunlit earth, and marching onward to that bourn from 
which no traveller returns ; and we cannot, even if we would, 
refrain from asking ourselves towards what goal these " un 
wearied feet of mortals " go their way. Even though we see 
that some battalions of this innumerable army cany the 
banner of the Cross and have an heavenly light upon their 
brows, we cannot confine our gaze to these alone, or content 
our hearts with a sure and certain hope for them. We may 
not forget that every one of all these multitudes derives his 
being from the Father of us all, is the heir of a limitless 
destiny, and has an appointed place in the universal purpose 
of " the Sovereign Lord, the Lover of Souls." 

In any case, it is obvious that the problem of the End 
cannot be excluded from discussion in a treatise on Eschatology. 
And it is evident, also, that any historical study of this matter, 
from the Christian standpoint, must begin with the New 
Testament must inquire at the outset whether Revelation 
has any clear light to shed on the destinies of man. It is to 
this inquiry, then, that we must now address ourselves ; it will 
be our business to consider the basis which each of the great 
theories may claim for itself in the letter and in the spirit of 
the Gospel message. 




It is natural to begin our study of the New Testament 
doctrine with the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Synoptic 
Gospels. It will not be necessary, however, to discuss His 
apocalyptic prophecies, as these have been considered in a 
former chapter. The question we have now before us concerns 
the extent to which His teaching, in its general drift and 
meaning, supports the belief that the lost will suffer either 
everlasting punishment or annihilation ; or encourages a hope 
that reaches beyond the terrors of the Judgment. 

I. Its negative side. (a) The darker interpretation of our 
Lord's thought regarding things to come does not depend for 
its evidence on any distinct declaration of His, but rather on 
the solemn and warning note which sounds throughout His 
message. For instance, the condemnation passed on Judas, 
that it had been good for him if he had never been born, 1 is 
often said to involve the doom of unending punishment, inas 
much as no lesser evil than this could make it true of any man 
that he had better never have lived. But although this may be 
good logic it is not convincing. A logical way of treating this 
expression appears to us out of the question when we remember 
that it was a current saying, as old at least as the Second part 
of the Book of Enoch?' You really cannot translate a proverb 
into a syllogism. 

A similar difficulty attends the interpretation of the passage 
in which our Lord declares that the sin of blasphemy against 
the Holy Spirit shall never be forgiven. 3 There is no doubt 
that this saying has made a powerful impression on the common 
Christian mind. You remember, for instance, how George 
Borrow, in his Lavengro, tells of one who believed that he had 

1 Matt. 26 24 . 

- 38 2 , cf. also ,? Bar. 10 s (in neither of these cases is there reference to 
the future state). 

3 Matt. 12 24 ' 32 , Mark 3"- so , Luke }2 10 . 


committed this sin in childhood, and whose entire after-life 
was haunted by the memory of it and by the sense of impending 
doom. Many theologians, also, have found in this utterance 
conclusive evidence that Jesus taught the doctrine of ever 
lasting punishment. Yet its precise theological import is not 
in the least plain. It was provoked by the attitude of the 
Scribes, who attributed the works of Jesus to His alliance with 
the evil powers. In so doing they blasphemed against that 
divine spirit of compassion which inspired the healing ministry 
of the Saviour. They sinned against love ; and this was ever 
the kind of offence that was most hateful to Jesus. Hence 
He declared with passionate indignation that their attitude 
was beyond the reach of forgiveness. This pronouncement of 
His cannot, however, be said to convey a sentence of personal 
and irrevocable doom unless we can be sure that it was directed 
against individual men. And we cannot attain to such 
certainty. Rather does it seem that the offence of the Scribes 
was committed by them as a class or party, not as separate 
persons. This interpretation is rendered probable by the fact 
that the Jewish mind was accustomed to the idea that nations 
and bodies of men could commit an unforgiveable sin. Thus it 
is said in the Book of Jubilees that when the children of Israel 
break the law of circumcision, " there will be no more pardon 
or forgiveness unto them for all the sin of this eternal error." 1 
This view is supported also by the context, since it is evident 
that the Scribes were inspired in their accusation against Jesus 
by official and professional prejudice, rather than by personal 
depravity. It is difficult to believe that Jesus meant to say 
that each individual Scribe, in allowing party passion to lead 
him so far astray, had placed himself beyond the reach of 
divine grace and mercy. We know, indeed, that the sect of 
the Pharisees included men of good and even beautiful char 
acter. The Apostle Paul himself belonged to it, and shared 
for a time its bitterest thoughts towards Jesus ; and yet he 
was called out of this party and this state of mind, was granted 
forgiveness, and became the greatest of the servants of the 

1 Jub. If. 34 . 


On the whole, then, it does not seem certain that this im 
pressive declaration has a direct beariilg on the subject of final 
destiny. It expresses an intensity of wrath against the loveless 
and uncompassionate spirit that Jesus saw to animate the 
Scribes a spirit which He hated, wherever it appeared.' He 
always warned men that those who did not forgive could not 
be forgiven, 1 that without works of charity none might enter 
the Kingdom, 2 that he who injured the little ones should wish 
that he were dead. 3 Hence this anathema against the Scribes 
is characteristic of Christ. It bids us understand that sins 
against humanity and mercy are not tolerable under the 
government of God at any time or in any world. All this is 
clear ; but the attempt to translate these prophetic words of 
the Master into the formal language of theology can only rob 
them of vitality and power. 

And the disabilities which thus attend the dogmatic 
interpretation of this passage appear whenever we seek to 
show that any individual utterance of Jesus conforms exactly 
to the requirements of modern theory. When, for example, 
He declares that there are few that find the narrow way that 
leads to life, while many tread the easy path that leads to 
destruction, 4 He certainly teaches that, as good and evil are 
opposed in their nature, so also are they opposed in the ends 
towards which they move. But, as soon as we proceed to ask 
what is meant by the " destruction " towards which evil tends, 
we find it impossible to provide an answer which is not at 
least debatable. One simply cannot show that " destruction " 
certainly means annihilation, as opposed to final ruin, or 
indeed that it is anything more than a synonym for " Gehenna." 
In the same way, the doctrine that "whosoever would save 
his life shall lose it" 5 expresses one of the most profound 
principles in the teaching of the Master. But how we spoil 
this saying when we interpret it, not as a statement of 
universal moral truth but as a prophecy that the selfish life 
must end in total extinction. Indeed, the habit of applying 
the methods of minute verbal analysis to such words of Jesus 

1 Matt. 6' 5 . 2 25 41 ' 46 . 3 18, 


is unhistorical in spirit, and is not conducive either to rever 
ence or understanding. It distracts attention from the 
religious and prophetic force of the evangelic sayings, and 
directs the mind to the mere details of their expression. It 
thus subordinates that which is vital, and that of which we 
can be sure, to formal peculiarities which are usually doubtful 
and always of minor moment. Also, it compels us to bring 
the utterances of our Lord into the region of laboured contro 
versy ; and whatever is made the subject of prolonged debate 
begins to wear an aspect of uncertainty. The longer one 
studies the works of partisan divines the more one is convinced 
that the path of wisdom lies in refusing to base doctrinal 
conclusions on any single text or on any merely verbal grounds. 
No doctrine is secure that is not supported by a persistent 
element in the Gospel records. 

(6) To say all this is not, however, to minimise the force 
and weight of our Saviour's message, on its ominous and 
negative side. While the sayings to which we have referred 
do not, when taken separately, bear any final dogmatic witness, 
their cumulative meaning is extremely impressive. They 
pertain to an aspect of the Galilean Gospel which is far from 
hopeful. There is, for instance, a characteristic of the apoca 
lyptic parables so persistent and so independent of mere 
imagery as to imply a deeply rooted conviction. This 
characteristic is the continual prophecy of a decisive separa 
tion of the heirs of the Kingdom from the rest of humanity. 
The King is constantly depicted as closing the gate of the 
City against those who are without, and refusing to open it 
again being deaf to all appeals, all entreaties, all knocking at 
the door. 1 This note of exclusion is so dominant as to suggest 
a most solemn thought in the mind of Jesus. It belongs to 
a minor strain which is heard in the voice of our Lord a 
sadness of foreboding, a stern perception of ominous possibili 
ties. There is a broad and easy way that leads to destruction ; - 
it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose 
his own life; 3 it had been well for Judas if he had never been 
born; apostate disciples are as salt that has lost its virtue 

1 Matt. 25 1 ' 12 . 2 7 13 - . 3 16 26 , 


and is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and 
trodden under foot of men ; l there is an obscurity of the soul, 
wherein the very light is as darkness ; 2 there are those whose 
lives are like painted tombs full of dead men's bones and all 
uncleanness ; 3 there are offenders for whom it were better 
that a millstone were hanged about the neck and they were 
drowned in the depth of the sea. 4 These are all sayings that 
are weighted with a burden of prophetic warning. They 
compel us to recognise, with an awe of spirit which is the 
deeper the more humbly we acknowledge the authority of 
Jesus, that He believed in an immeasurable danger which 
threatened the souls of men ; a horror of great darkness from 
which they had to be delivered ; a desert of dreary exile 
towards which the beloved race of mortals was straying with 
careless feet. 

2. Its positive side. (a) Now, there can be no doubt that 
the perception of this element in the teaching of Jesus, 
combined with a dogmatic interpretation of His Gehenna 
sayings, has been the chief scriptural source of the Christian 
belief in everlasting perdition. It is probable, also, that a 
large number of New Testament experts in our time would 
affirm on critical grounds that Jesus taught either the ever 
lasting torment or the total destruction of all who might be 
excluded from the Messianic Kingdom. And it is certain that 
the words of our Lord have extinguished in many reverent 
minds all hope of universal salvation. 

From the standpoint adopted in these lectures, however, 
it does not appear certain that this confident interpretation of 
the Synoptic doctrine is altogether justified. If we exclude 
the idea that the Gehenna symbol was identified in our Lord's 
time with any fixed theory of destiny, and if we do not find 
it legitimate to build theological conclusions on those indi 
vidual utterances to which we have referred, there does not 
remain evidence to show that the teaching of Jesus as to the 
fate of the lost went further than that message of retribution 
and judgment which is contained in His apocalyptic prophecies. 
But, apart from these considerations, we have to bear in mind 

1 Matt. 5 13 . 2 B 23 . :! 23- 17 . 4 18". 


that these warnings of wrath to come, which we find so 
impressive, represent only one side of the Galilean Gospel. 
It surely cannot be denied by any student of the doctrine of 
Jesus that there is an element in His teaching and an aspect 
of His character and ministry which do not suggest the idea 
that all mankind except the immediate heirs of the Kingdom 
are destined to a fate of torment and perdition. 

But it is true of the brighter as well as the darker side of 
our Lord's message that it is undefined, and is a matter of 
principle rather than of distinct utterance. The separate 
sayings to which liberal scholars are accustomed to appeal will 
not bear the weight of great conclusions. Some theologians, 
for instance, find the doctrine that all penalty will have an 
end in the saying that some sinners will be beaten with few 
stripes and some with many. And no doubt the passage in 
which this expression occurs l is disconcerting to our orthodoxy. 
In it our Lord declares that the Son of Man at His coming 
will find among His servants three different classes (1) the 
faithful, who shall receive the fulness of blessing; (2) the 
deliberately evil, who will be cut asunder and given a portion 
with the unbelievers ; (3) those of lesser guilt, who will be 
chastised with a severity proportioned to their offences. And 
if this prophecy may be applied to the future state it certainly 
suggests a threefold doctrine of destiny like that of the Rabbis. 
Even if it be held to refer only to the servants of Jesus, it is 
inconsistent with established dogma. But it certainly does 
not even hint the idea that all the world will be saved. 

Much weight, again, is attached by some writers to a 
phrase which occurs in St. Matthew's version of the declara 
tion about the unpardonable sin "shall not be forgiven, 
neither in this age nor in that which is to come." 2 It is held 
that this expression implies that every sin except one will be 
pardoned in the future life. But we cannot be sure that this 
saying refers to the world to come, : it may refer only to the 
Messianic Age. Also, it is not certain that St. Matthew's 
version is an exact reproduction of the words of our Lord. 
And so we are unable to draw dogmatic conclusions from this 
Luke 12 41 ' 48 . - Matt. 12 s *. 


particular expression in so far, at least, as the teaching of 
Jesus is concerned. No doubt the fact that the Evangelist 
believed our Lord to have said that only one sin was unfor- 
giveable in the age to come, indicates a somewhat free state of 
opinion in the early Church. But nothing more than this can 
be affirmed. 

Still less is it possible to attribute any doctrinal import 
ance to the passage wherein our Lord counsels men to agree 
quickly with their adversary while they are in the way with 
him, rather than take their quarrel before the judge, who may 
cast them into a prison, where they will remain until they 
have paid all that they owe. This passage is often said to 
involve the doctrine that those who are condemned at the 
Judgment will endure penalty only until they have fulfilled 
the claims of justice. And it is true that St. Luke, unlike St. 
Mark, does give this word of Jesus in a context which shows 
it to refer to future retribution. The phrase, however, which 
theologians emphasise " thou shalt not depart thence, till 
thou hast paid the very last mite " l belongs to the incident 
and circumstance of a parabolic saying, and cannot be treated 
as if it expressed the intention of the whole utterance. The 
purpose of Jesus here is to enforce the need of settling all 
accounts without delay in view of the coming of the Son of 
Man ; and we cannot feel confident that He desired to state 
any opinion about the duration of penalty. We may con 
jecture, indeed, that if He had really declared any definite 
doctrine on this subject we would not have had to seek for it 
in obscure corners of the Gospel story, in the details of a 
picture, in the chance turning of a phrase. 

On the whole, then, one is not disposed to agree with those 
who find the idea of universal salvation in any one of the 
sayings of Jesus. At the same time, we may admit that those 
passages to which I have referred belong to a strain in the 
Synoptic doctrine that is not easily harmonised with a rigorous 
eschatology. Jesus certainly taught that there would be 
degrees of future punishment and a greater and lesser con 
demnation. Also, we may find in His discourses some traces 

1 Luke 12 58 - . 


of Eabbinic thought regarding the age to come. Even though 
we may not be inclined, for our own part, to attach much 
dogmatic importance to any of the sayings in question, it must 
still be conceded that in their general import they discourage 
the idea that the world to come has nothing in it but utter 
most doom on the one hand, and perfect blessedness on the 
other. In short, the three earlier Evangelists do ascribe 
sayings to Jesus which tend to modify the accepted doctrine 
of perdition, though they do not afford a basis for confident 

Christian optimists are perhaps on somewhat firmer ground 
when they appeal to certain general features of the Synoptic 
teaching, and certain principles which inform it. It is to be 
remembered, for instance, that the eschatology of Jesus is 
expressed in terms of the Kingdom of God. This peculiarity 
of our Lord's method renders it hazardous to argue in a 
rigorous way from the negative and exclusive side of His 
teaching. We can never be quite sure whether, in any given 
case, He is thinking of the Kingdom as a temporary Messianic 
state or as the condition of final blessedness in heaven. If 
the former thought were in His mind, then He need not have 
meant a sentence of eternal doom when He spoke of the 
penalty of exclusion. For it is evident that men who were 
not prepared for entrance to a temporary Kingdom when it 
was inaugurated on eartli might yet come afterwards to be fit 
for the eternal City of God. It is to be borne in mind also 
that Jesus, as a rule, does not extend His prophecies further 
than the advent of the Son of Man and the beginning of His 
dominion. St. Paul carries his thought beyond this point, and 
seeks to picture the later history of the Kingdom as it goes on 
its way and conquers all its enemies. But Jesus stops short at 
its establishment, with the attendant circumstances of judg 
ment and exclusion. And it is not safe to assume that His 
silence regarding things beyond must be interpreted in a hope 
less sense. Indeed, there are one or two expressions in the 
Gospels which suggest something that resembles the doctrine 
of St. Paul. Thus the Kingdom is likened to a tiny seed that 
grows into a great spreading tree, and to the leaven which, 


placed in a measure of meal, leavens the whole mass. These 
illustrations seem to imply that matters will not be settled 
all in a moment when the Kingdom appears that, on the 
contrary, the Empire of God will go on gradually extending 
itself till it has attained an universal sway. 

Some weight, also, must be attached to the view that our 
doctrine of immortality should be influenced, in a hopeful 
sense, by the principle of compensation which is enforced 
throughout the teaching of Jesus. The idea that the future 
will afford redress for the inequalities and hardships of this 
present state was a favourite thought in the mind of the 
Saviour. It is expressed, for instance, in the Parables of Dives 
and Lazarus and of the Talents, as well as in the blessings 
pronounced on the poor and the mourning and the persecuted, 
and in the sayings : " There are last that shall be first " ; " To 
whom little is given, of him little shall be required." And, if 
this characteristic doctrine of Jesus be applied to the world to 
come, it certainly suggests the extension of opportunity, and of 
the ministry of grace, beyond the limits of this present life. 
It seems to encourage the hope that some kind of reparation 
will be made to the man who has been poorly endowed in this 
unequal world. Men must begin the future life in the condi 
tion which is theirs when they die, even though that condition 
may not be due to their own demerit. Suppose they enter 
the unseen world halt and maimed and blind, it matters little 
that they owe these disabilities to their earlier poverty of 
privilege. Their weakness is a reality, whatever its cause may 
have been ; and no redress is accorded them if they are simply 
granted a minor degree of chastisement. Their actual spiritual 
state is their real penalty ; and if that penalty is to be re 
mitted, it can only be through their positive enjoyment of 
means of grace, such as may annul the privation of their 
earthly lot. In short, the doctrine of compensation involves 
the assurance that every man who has received small measure 
of advantage here shall receive much hereafter much of 
opportunity, and of the healing grace of Christ. 

(b) One may conjecture, however, that those who in all 
ages have entertained hopeful thoughts regarding the future of 


the human race have not really been inspired by direct sayings 
of Jesus, or even by inferences drawn from general principles 
which underlie His teaching, but rather by the influence of 
His personality, His attitude to men, His doctrine of God, and 
especially His Cross and Passion. Just as John Tauler said 
that the Kingdom of God was God Himself, so we may say 
that the Gospel of Jesus is Jesus Himself. Especially is it that 
aspect of His character and ministry of which we are the more 
assured because it was the least according to tradition or the 
expectations of men. It is that benignant light of His spirit 
which all the fiery clouds of apocalypse could not obscure 
that amazing breadth and tenderness of His humanity which 
not even the misunderstandings of His narrow generation have 
availed to hide from our eyes. It is that singular grace and 
truth which shone in the Galilean ministry and in all His 
companyings with the poor, the despised, and the outcast ; 
which inspired the plea for His disciples, " the spirit is willing 
but the flesh is weak," and the prayer on the Cross " Father, 
forgive them, for they know not what they do," and the serene 
confidence of the saying recorded by St. John " I, if I be lifted 
up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." It is this in 
Jesus that constitutes His gospel, and is the real source of 
every Christian hope. 

In complete harmony with this aspect of His mind is His 
doctrine of God. God is, for Him, essentially the universal 
Father, who sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, 1 ami 
is kind to the unthankful and evil ; 2 who receives back with a 
double joy the wandering son, 3 and is not willing that one of 
the little ones should perish ; 4 whose passion it is to recover 
and to save ; and who is as the shepherd that seeks for the 
one lost sheep till he finds it, and in whose presence there is 
more joy over one sinner that repenleth than over ninety and 
nine just persons that need no repentance. 5 This is our Lord's 
consistent doctrine of God ; and it is not more truly an account 
of the Father's heart than it is of the spirit that dwelt in 

1 Matt. 5. Luke G 35 . 15 32 . 

4 Matt. 18 14 . 5 Luke 15 8 - 10 . 


It is almost certain, indeed, that this element was even 
more prominent in the teaching and thought of the Master 
than the Synoptic Gospels would lead us to suppose. These 
Gospels do not fully express the universal aspect of our Lord's 
mission ; nor make it clear that He regarded Himself as the 
Saviour of mankind, or believed that He had been sent into 
the world because of the love of God for the whole human race. 
Yet, other New Testament writings express these truths without 
hesitation or doubt. This is, indeed, the most original note in 
the evangelic message. The idea that the Christ is the 
redeemer of all men, that His work has an unlimited reach, 
that He is the unspeakable gift of the Father to the world 
which He loves, was not suggested by tradition, nor was it 
congenial to the Jewish mind. Whence, then, did the Apostles 
derive it ? From what source does St. John obtain confidence 
to say that Jesus is " the Lamb of God, which taketh away the 
sin of the world," 1 or St. Paul to affirm that "God was in 
Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself " ? 2 Evidently from 
Jesus; from the impression made by His personality; from 
the influence of His spirit ; from memories of His life ; from 
sayings of His which the Synoptists have not recorded. There 
is, perhaps, no fact that testifies more strongly than this to the 
measureless power which dwelt in Jesus Christ. He spoke in 
apocalyptic terms that were exclusive and narrow; He said 
things which suggested a limited purpose and mission; He 
was surrounded by influences that rendered men adverse to a 
gospel of boundless sweep. And yet the universality of His 
spirit overcame all these things, and compelled His followers, 
spite of themselves, to say " God so loved the world, that He 
gave His only-begotten Son." 3 And His Church throughout 
the ages, though it has clung to the literal meaning of His 
words and has accepted dogmatic teaching which has limited 
His gospel, has yet been constrained by His influence to call 
Him by names of universal import, and ascribe to Him the 
Lordship of all things to call Him, not the Saviour of the 
elect, but Salvator Mundi ; not the Light of the Church or of 
the Kingdom, but the " Light of the world." 

1 John I 20 . a 2 Cor. 5 19 . s John 3 1G . 


While, then, we do not find in the sayings of Jesus any 
clear doctrine of ultimate destiny, we do find a profoundly 
universal and hopeful element in His message and His work, 
in the light of which we must interpret those solemn warnings 
and forebodings that are not heard in the voice of any prophet 
more certainly than in that of the Prophet of Nazareth. 



(St. Paul and St. John.) 

When we pass from the Synoptic account of the teaching 
of Jesus to the interpretation of the Gospel presented in the 
other New Testament writings, we find the same apparently 
conflicting strains of thought on the one hand, predictions of 
immeasurable doom ; and, on the other, great assertions regard 
ing the mind and purpose of God which encourage the widest 
hope. It is the harmonising of these two that constitutes the 
problem of apostolic eschatology. 

In discussing this problem it will be convenient to confine 
our attention for the most part to the teaching of St. Paul and 
St. John. Indeed, the other New Testament writers have very 
little light to shed on the subject of universal destiny ; their 
statements as to the doom of the impenitent being couched, as 
a rule, in the doubtful terms of Apocalypse. There are, how 
ever, two points which may be noted as characteristic of the 
sacred writings generally. In the first place, they declare that 
the work of Christ has a relation to all mankind. Thus, the 
Epistle to the Hebrews says that the Saviour " tasted death for 
every man " ; l the First Epistle of St. Peter affirms that the 
ministry of our Lord extended beyond the grave ; and in First 
Timothy we read " God willeth that all men should be saved." 
" Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all." " We 
have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all 
men, specially of them that believe." - 

1 Heb. 2 9 "should taste death for every man " (inrlp iravTh). 
3 Tim. 2 4 - 6 4 10 . 


In the second place, the element of dark prophecy in the 
New Testament books is chiefly expressed in those passages 
which speak of the state of spiritual " death " that awaits the 
children of this world. It is in the light of these utterances 
that we must interpret such words as " perdition " (aTrwXeta), 
and " corruption " or " decay " (<j>6opa), and " destruction " 
(o\efy>o<?). The state of being lost, of decay, and of destruction, 
is equivalent to that mysterious condition of death which is 
declared to be the appointed lot of sinners beyond the Judgment. 
The Christian teachers affirm that the natural man is already 
dead in trespasses and sins; and they prophesy that if he 
continue in this state he must die, in some deeper sense, here 
after. Thus St. James tells us that desire is the mother of 
sin, and sin is the mother of death. 1 Hence, the controversy 
regarding the New Testament doctrine of final destiny, on its 
negative side, really turns on the interpretation of this term 
" death," in its application to the fate of the lost. 

Having thus briefly observed these two elements in the 
Apostolic tradition, let us now proceed to discuss them as they 
appear in the writings of the two theologians of the New 
Testament. In discharging this task, it will be suitable for us 
to consider the doctrine of St. John before that of St. Paul. 
This is, of course, not the proper chronological order ; but it is 
justified by the consideration that St. Paul's thought is more 
speculative than that of the later writer, and is far more 
directly applied to the subject of final destiny. 

Teaching of St. John. 

1. Its "dualism." (a) The Johannine theology is pre 
sented in two works the Gospel and the First Epistle of St. 
John. But it is not necessary, for purposes of exposition, to 
separate sayings that occur in the one of these books from 
those that appear in the other. Whether St. John is telling 
the story of Jesus Christ or is directly addressing the churches, 
his teaching remains the same. He does not distinguish 
between the message that was spoken by Jesus and the belief 

1 Jas. I 15 . 


which the Spirit of Jesus has created in his own mind. 
Neither of his writings contains direct predictions as to ultimate 
destiny. Both of them deal almost exclusively with the great 
facts and principles which are spiritual realities in this present 
world. The outcome of these facts and principles in the life 
to come is matter of " solemn conjecture." The Johannine 
doctrine gathers itself round the conception of eternal life. 
Those twice-born men who are possessed of this supreme gift 
are separated from other men by a great gulf. The unre- 
generate are, from the spiritual point of view, dead. Their 
existence belongs to the realm of illusion and vanity. It is 
occupied with the appearances and shadows of things ; it is of 
the world that passeth away. And the purpose of Christ in 
His death and resurrection is to deliver men from this state of 
death and to give them the true eternal life which is of God 
and abideth for ever. Christ is, indeed, the only means whereby 
this redemption can be obtained. Apart from Him, and from 
communion with His spirit, there is no deliverance from the 
bondage of death. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of 
Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." 1 

Now, there can be no doubt that this view of things does 
present, at first sight, a hopeless opposition of thought. On 
the one hand is the world lying in the evil one, abiding under 
the wrath of God, in bondage to corruption, shrouded in dark 
ness, buried in death. On the other hand is the fellowship of 
the redeemed, dwelling in celestial light, possessed of everlasting 
peace, nourished with heavenly bread, renewed with the water 
of eternal life. " We know that we are of God, and the whole 
world lieth in wickedness." z Such is the dualism of St. John ; 
and if we regard it as absolute and unreconciled and ask our 
selves what kind of eschatology it suggests, we can only reply 
that it is one of extreme gloom. The apocalyptic conception 
of future torment is really more hopeful than the view of 
destiny which is founded on the Johannine idea of spiritual 
death. After all, there is hope in pain ; there is purifying in 
fire ; so long as there is suffering there is life. But if we are 
to believe that the state of utter death which belongs to the 
1 John 6 s3 . * I John 5 19 , 


unregenerate here is continued in an ever-deepening form here 
after, we can hardly conceive that there remains any ground 
for hope regarding the fate of the multitude. The only 
question that can arise is whether that fate is unending desola 
tion or the absolute loss of existence. 

(6) But if we apply ourselves to this latter problem we find 
no means of reaching a confident conclusion. It is customary 
to appeal to " Hellenistic " thought on such questions, as a key 
to all our perplexities. But this is a habit which is not to be 
followed with any great assurance. Some writers speak as if 
Hellenism were a thing of which we possessed a perfect know 
ledge, as if it were a defined and familiar system, like, for 
instance, Calvinism. Whereas, we have no sure information 
about it except such as we derive from Philo, the Book of 
Wisdom, and other Alexandrian works, a few fragmentary 
inscriptions, and some quotations from lost writings. As to its 
general features, we know that it was an attempt to combine 
Jewish belief with Greek philosophy ; that it prevailed widely 
throughout certain regions in New Testament times ; and that 
it commonly believed in the pre-existence of souls and held 
the doctrine of the Logos, denied the Resurrection, and was, 
perhaps, as much Stoical as anything else in its ethics. This 
elusive and vague type of thought attained to something like 
coherent utterance only in Philo. And Philo is no safe guide 
to the understanding of St. John. For one thing, the Christian 
writer, while he accepted many Philonic forms of thought, 
held them in a sense of his own, and used them with the 
freedom proper to one who was a disciple, not of the Alexan 
drian, but of Jesus. Also, Philo, great thinker and. great soul 
as he was, is himself very difficult to interpret. His work is 
illumined by flashes of insight, fine turns of expression, and 
high mystical vision. But it is full of tentative endeavours 
and incomplete adventures, and is encumbered by an unattain 
able ambition to reconcile Judaism with the doctrines of the 
Academy and of the Porch. Evidently, then, Hellenism even 
as expressed by Philo, does not help us beyond a certain point 
in our study of St. John. And this is especially true in the 
matter of eschatology, since the Alexandrian doctrine of 


destiny, as it concerns the unregenerate, is, as we have seen, 
very doubtful and obscure. Even though one may think that 
it tends towards the thought of conditional immortality, one 
recognises that this is a conclusion which cannot be stated in 
any confident or dogmatic way. 

(c) It thus appears that contemporary literature, even of 
the Hellenistic type, does not afford us any complete guidance 
towards an understanding of the Johannine eschatology. The 
most it can do for us is to suggest that the dualism of the 
Fourth Evangelist may imply that the unspiritual will suffer 
either eternal perdition or actual loss of personal life. As 
between the claims of those who definitely assert either of 
these views against the other, it is therefore hardly possible to 
decide. Theologians who maintain the orthodox interpretation 
of St. John's teaching have certainly a strong case to present. 
Their position is supported by the consideration that " death " 
in the Johannine writings signifies that state which is the 
opposite of eternal life. It is reasonable to argue that, as 
eternal life is not mere existence but a spiritual quality of 
being, so the condition of death, which is the contrary of it, has 
nothing to do with physical dissolution or extinction of 
personality, but is rather a mode of existence which, from the 
moral point of view, is not worthy of being called life. If 
unregenerate men are dead already, and yet continue to be 
physically alive, they may go on in this condition hereafter 
and yet for ever remain in possession of self-conscious person 
ality. This is a perfectly defensible interpretation of one 
element in St. John's teaching ; and if we think it sound in 
itself, and also consistent with a due appreciation of other 
notes in his message, we may decide that he meant by spiritual 
death in its final issue a state of permanent exclusion from the 
Kingdom of complete and incurable inability to experience 
the powers of the higher life. 1 

(rf) On the other hand, the contention that St. John 
believed in Conditional Immortality, or at least that his 
thought tended towards it, may be argued with a great deal 
of force, and has special weight with those of us who think 

1 Cf. E. F. Scott, Fourth Gospel, pp. 247-263. 


that Philo's theory of immortality implied that the unspiritual 
must suffer the doom of final extinction. St. John certainly 
believed, as the Alexandrian did, that apart from communion 
with the Logos no man had any true life at all. And it must 
be confessed that his language does suggest that there is no 
such thing as immortality for any who do not abide in the Son 
of God, feed upon His flesh, drink His blood, receive from Him 
the new supernatural life which He alone bestows. This, at 
least, is the Conditionalist view of the matter. Those who 
maintain that view do not deny that " death," like " life," is 
used figuratively by St. John ; but they say that this symbolic 
usage has, lying under it, conceptions that point to actual 
extinction as the ultimate fate of the unregenerate. The state 
of death in which these are is a state of mortality. It is not in 
the nature of things that it can endure for ever. Concerned as 
it is with unreality, bound up as it is with evil, it is of necessity 
transient. Just as eternal life involves perpetual existence 
though it is the possession of men who are appointed to 
physical dissolution, so spiritual death means final annihilation 
though it is compatible with a temporary existence in this 
world and beyond it. The "life" of the believer means 
immortality, because it makes him a part of the everlasting 
order ; and the " death " of the unregenerate means evanescence, 
because it makes him a part of the transient world. He who 
has a portion, by faith, in the everlasting Kingdom is himself 
everlasting ; he whose lot is cast with perishable things must 
himself perish. "The world passeth away, and the lust 
thereof ; but he that doeth the will of God abide th for ever." l 
2. Reconciling element. (a) Now, this Conditiojnalist inter 
pretation of St. John's doctrine has even more to be said for it 
than has the view that he believed in eternal evil. But the 
weakness of both these constructions is their assumption that 
the dualism of the Fourth Evangelist is absolute, and shows no 
signs of being mediated by a higher thought. Surely this is 
very far from being the case. It is true that both in the 
Gospel and in the Epistle the universe of moral and spiritual 
things is divided into opposing realms of light and darkness, 

1 1 John 2 17 . 


life aiid death ; and this is the feature of their doctrine 011 
which, up to this point, I have dwelt. But there is another 
and a reconciling element in Johannine thought which really 
transcends its oppositions. This third and unifying principle 
is St. John's doctrine of God and of His relation to the whole 
world in Jesus Christ. He declares that the mission of Christ 
had its origin in the nature of the Father, 1 who is love. 2 He 
says that every one that " dwelleth in love dwelleth in God," 8 
and that such an one has " passed from death unto life." 4 He 
asserts that the purpose of our Lord is universal salvation 
" God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world ; 
but that the world through Him might be saved." 5 He teaches 
that the sacrifice of the Cross was a sacrifice for all sins of all 
men. " He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours 
only, but also for the whole world." 8 He assures us that Jesus 
was confident that if He were lifted up from the earth He 
would draw all men unto Himself. 7 Finally, he teaches the 
necessary relation of Christ to every man, affirming that He is 
the eternal Word, or Eeasou, of God, by whom all things were 
created and in whom they all exist ; that He embodies that 
spiritual principle which is the medium of all our seeing, is the 
light which coming into the world lighteth every man. 8 

(6) Now, it is surely impossible to give due weight to this 
element in the message of the Fourth Evangelist, and yet to 
say that the dualism of his thought is intractable and hopeless. 
His assertions regarding life and death, light and darkness, are 
true to one aspect of our Lord's teaching, and indeed to the 
results of all earnest moral reflection. Nevertheless, he had 
not so learned Christ as to see in the spiritual universe nothing 
but eternal conflict and invincible oppositions, or to suppose 
that the recognition of discords was the last word of faith. 
When we think of his doctrine that " God is love," we see that 
it involves the universality and everlasting persistence of 
divine grace. When we consider his declarations regarding 
the intention of our Lord in His ministry and sacrifice, we feel 

1 Gospel 3 16 . 2 1 Epistle 4 8 . s 4 18 . 

4 3". 8 Gospel 3". 6 1 Epistle 2. 

7 Gospel 12 31 . 8 I 1 ' 10 . * 


that they imply a limitless purpose of salvation. When we 
remember, also, that this strain in his teaching is the peculiar 
and characteristic feature of it, we cannot hold it to be sub 
ordinate to other things in his message which are by comparison 
traditional and obvious. Surely it is not reasonable to think 
that convictions regarding the character and purpose of God, 
which he can have attained only through the Spirit of Christ, 
are to be limited by his sayings about " life " and " death " 
which, after all, might have been uttered by Philo as naturally 
as by Jesus or by John. 

(c) It seems, then, that if we allow due value to the re 
conciling and universal note in the message of the beloved 
John, we are unable to accept the view that his Gospel did not 
transcend the dualism it so strongly affirmed. And this being 
so, we cannot agree with those who say that he held and 
taught either that the wicked would be destroyed or that evil 
would be eternal. We cannot do this, because both of these 
positions rest on the belief that there is nothing in St. John's 
thought that transcends its discords, and because they sub 
ordinate the universal and unique aspect of his doctrine to 
that which is limited and traditional. To say this, however, 
is not to affirm that the Evangelist taught the doctrine of 
universal salvation. His mind was of the direct mystical type 
which is not troubled by logical perplexities, and knows with 
out labour that all things are reconciled in Love. And there 
is no evidence that he believed himself commissioned to declare 
any doctrine of the End. He certainly believed in the terrors 
of judgment, the wrath of God, the penalties of sin here and 
hereafter. But whether he held any fixed belief on the subject 
of final destiny, we cannot say. What we do know is that he 
was not conscious of teaching anything that limited or 
weakened the truth of his message concerning the love of the 
Father for the whole race of mankind, the sacrifice of. Christ 
for all human sin, and the divine desire and purpose to work, 
in some sense, an universal salvation through Him who was 
called the " Resurrection and the Life." 


Teaching of St. Paul. 

1. His doctrine .of " death." The teaching of the Apostle 
Paul regarding life and death bears a resemblance to that of 
St. John, and its influence is evident in the later writer. But 
it is more varied, more individual, and more definitely applied 
to the future state. While eternal life is mainly conceived by 
St. John as a present possession, it always means in St. Paul's 
language something to be attained hereafter, and is the opposite 
of that state of death which is the appointed doom of the un 
godly. " The wages of sin is death ; but the gift of God is 
eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 

(a) Now, this Pauline doctrine, on its negative side, 
presents a most bewildering and discouraging subject of study. 
The idea of death, both as a physical fact and as a spiritual 
experience or state, seems to have had a peculiar fascination 
for the Apostle. His references to it are so frequent, and 
exceed so much in variety of meaning all contemporary 
example, as to suggest a personal characteristic. He has 
recourse to the symbolism of " death " whenever he is deeply 
moved by the sad and stern aspect of things, and whenever 
he wishes to describe painful experiences or any want of 
sensibility. Sometimes he uses it in an extremely rhetorical 
way, as when he says, " I die daily " ; 2 " death worketh in us, 
but life in you " ; 8 " if Christ be in you, the body is dead." 4 
Again, this phraseology often indicates the idea that those who 
are under the sway of any one influence are free from the 
power of its opposite, as in the declaration that those who are 
alive to God are dead to sin. 5 In this aspect, the symbol of 
death and dying is devoid of all colour of its own and takes a 
bright or a dark meaning according to the connection in which 
it occurs. Thus, baptism is likened to burial, 6 and the experi 
ence of the Christian to crucifixion ; 7 and believers in Christ 
are described as dead. 8 Once more, he occasionally indicates 
by this form of expression, want of power, as in the saying, 

1 Rom. G 2 *. s 1 Cor. 15 S1 . 3 2 Cor. 4". 

4 Rom. 8 10 . 5 6 U . 6 4 . 

7 Gal. 2*>. 8 Col. 3 3 . 


" apart from the law sin is dead." L An excellent example, 
also, of the hyperbolical way in which he speaks of " dying " is 
found in the statement, " sin revived, and I died." 2 Clearly, it 
was not the habit of the Apostle to weigh his terms with care, 
or to measure his language in a scientific spirit ; and he 
employed the tremendous symbolism of death in cases where 
writers of a different temperament would have expressed them 
selves with more moderation and variety. And he thus lays 
himself open to the danger of being misunderstood by literal 
and laborious minds. We may conjecture that he never 
expected his words to be so carefully examined, and would 
have been surprised at the importance which has often been 
attached to his impetuous expressions. 

(&) There can be no doubt, however, of the austerity of 
meaning which belongs to St. Paul's prophecy that death will 
be the wages of sin. Physical dissolution itself seemed a 
terrible thing to St. Paul. And it is probably to this, as much 
as to the influence of contemporary thought, that we must 
attribute his persistent habit of describing the state of perdition 
by likening it to that dreadful power which is the tyrant of 
creation. He saw in the king of terrors a fitting symbol of the 
uttermost spiritual doom. For him, as for Philo, to be un- 
spiritual was to be dead now, and was to be moving towards 
a climax of death beyond the grave. To fail of eternal life at 
the last was to be given over to the powers of ruin and decay. 3 

(c) So far, we are on secure ground in interpreting the 
general doctrine of St. Paul regarding the wages of sin. The 
matter is different, however, when we come to ask ourselves 
whether his prophecy of coining death and corruption can be 
said to imply a theological conclusion on the subject of final 
destiny. The difficulties that beset an attempt to answer this 
question are, to some extent, similar to those which confront 
us when we seek to translate into dogma the parallel teaching 
of St. John. The task of doctrinal exposition is, however, 
much more complicated in the case of the Pauline writings 
than in that of the Johannine. The latter are the work of a 

1 Rom. 7 8 . 2 7 9 . 

3 Of. H. A. A. Kennedy, St. Paul's Conceptions of Last Things, chap. iii. 


mind that belonged essentially to the mystical type, and their 
method is to present ideas in various aspects and relations 
rather than in orderly sequence of thought. The former, on 
the other hand, reveal a genius of " infinite variety." St. Paul 
was a mystic, but he was a logician as well. He was a master 
of emotional appeal, a prophet, a poet, an evangelist ; but he 
was also a theologian. In him is to be found the source of 
many speculations which have shown astonishing vitality ; 
also, unlike St. John, he was interested in the problem of the 
End. Hence one expects to find a deliberate meaning in his 
eschatological statements ; nor is this expectation altogether 
disappointed. As we study his letters we discern in them a 
strain of independent thought regarding the Last Things, which 
shows itself in many ways and steadily increases in definite- 
ness and power. 

(d) An example of this element in the Apostle's teaching 
is to be found, for instance, in his silence about Gehenna and 
its torments. This is, indeed, a most significant feature of his 
doctrine. He had been trained in a Kabbinic school which 
constantly employed the symbol of the eternal fire. Also, he 
must have known the tradition as to the preaching of Jesus on 
this subject which is embodied in the Synoptic Gospels. Why, 
then, does he avoid the language with which he was familiar ; 
and why does he not conform to the example of Je^us ? The 
reason cannot have been that he addressed himself largely to 
Gentile Christians who were not acquainted with the Jewish 
forms. It is true that these might not have recognised the 
term " Gehenna," but they would have understood quite well 
the notion of torment by fire. Nor can we explain his silence 
by the idea that he held himself free to ignore the doctrine of 
his Master. Why, then, had he nothing to say regarding the 
Pit of fire and destruction ? Most likely, because he did not 
wish to teach, or believe that Jesus had meant to enforce, the 
idea of perpetual torment. In all his writings there is only 
one saying which even suggests the latter conception. 1 It 
seems plain, then, that it was with intent that he spoke of 
death, decay, and perdition, rather than of the everlasting fire. 

1 Rom. 2 s - 9 . 


And what can that intention have been, if it was not to 
convey a general and negative, rather than a concrete and 
sensuous, message of coming doom ? 

(e) This, then, is the first of the things that one notes as 
indicating the theological tendency of St. Paul's mind in this 
particular direction. Its effect, of course, is mainly negative ; 
but it shows that, while he accepted all the other forms of 
Jewish prophecy, he rejected the Gehenna symbol as unsuited 
to his purpose. But the second feature of his doctrine is that 
the imagery which he chooses to employ in place of the 
apocalyptic emblem is used with such freedom and individu 
ality as to convey no definite idea beyond that of uttermost 
retribution. No doubt, if we consider St. Paul's terms, 
" death " and " decay," as we might study words occurring in 
a legal document, without regard to the peculiarities of his 
style and without reference to other elements in his teaching, 
we may conclude that he believed that the doom reserved for 
the wicked was complete destruction, either of the moral 
nature or of personal existence. One need not illustrate this 
at length, as to do so would involve the repetition of much 
that has been said already in considering the doctrine of St. 
John. Of St. Paul, even more certainly than of the Fourth 
Evangelist, it must be said that his sayings will often bear the 
Conditionalist interpretation. For instance, the prophecy, 
" He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corrup 
tion," 1 expresses that foreboding and forewarning of the 
transience of all evil powers and all evil lives which is so 
characteristic of St. John. Many other declarations also 
might be quoted to show that St. Paul may have foreseen 
awaiting the impenitent, somewhere in the future, a second 
death which was death indeed. 

On the other hand, it is quite possible to maintain that the 
Apostle always meant by final " death " a state that was the 

1 Gal. 6" ; cf. Test. Levi : 

' ' And sow good things in your souls, 
That you may find them in your life ; 
But if ye sow evil things, 
Ye shall reap every trouble and affliction." 


opposite of eternal life. In this view, the significance of the 
warning, " If ye live after the flesh, ye must die," would be If 
ye follow the law of the lower nature, ye must fail of the 
resurrection, must suffer exclusion from the Kingdom, must 
inherit a disembodied existence, shadowy and vain, without 
moral content or true reality, without God, without light and 
without hope. This is an interpretation that can be defended 
so long as we confine our attention to the negative side of St. 
Paul's message though it is hardly to be reconciled with the 
universal aspect of his thought. But it evidently indicates a 
doctrine of moral destruction, and so does not differ in practical 
effect from the Conditionalist view. 

(/) But, while a dogmatic conclusion of this kind may be 
deduced from the words of the Apostle, if they are considered 
without reference to his temperament and without allowance 
for his individual manner of using them, it is not so easy to 
be confident about their precise import when we bear these 
personal characteristics in mind. It may be true that Philo 
and the Book of Wisdom always mean to enforce the idea of 
extinction, either of personality or of moral life, when they 
speak of the death that awaits sinners. But it by no means 
follows that St. Paul conformed to their example. His vitality 
both of mind and of will rendered him more likely to create 
precedents than to follow them ; and the Alexandrians were 
greatly inferior to him in originality and force of genius, as 
well as in power of clear expression. So that our knowledge 
of their opinions helps us little to determine the opinions 
of St. Paul. But the main source of our uncertainty as to 
the degree of definiteness which the Apostle intended to 
characterise his use of words like " death " and " corruption," 
is the extraordinary freedom which we have seen to distinguish 
his employment of this phraseology. For instance, we might 
be ready to say that the prophecy, " If ye live after the flesh, 
ye must die," pointed to a fixed and final event, if we did not 
remember the similar and clearly imaginative saying, "Sin 
revived, and I died." We have always to bear in mind that 
the terms of the " death " imagery had no such theological 
content for him as they have for us, to whom they represent a 


long dogmatic tradition. He had been nurtured in the Jewish 
Church which had no assured doctrine of immortality, far less 
of ultimate destiny ; and members of that Church had spoken 
of death as the wages of sin, without themselves having any 
faith in a life to come. 1 Also, St. Paul was a pupil of a 
Rabbinic school which was only beginning to consider the 
problems of future existence. Hence, words like " death " and 
" perdition " were for him still in a plastic state, and were 
ready to take many different forms of meaning under the 
touch of his individual and creative genius. And so it is not 
a safe thing to say that when they occur in his prophecies of 
judgment they are designed to "teach" this or that modern 
doctrine. It is much more reasonable to suppose that the 
Apostle, so far from employing these terms in the interests of 
a definite theory, chose them just because he was not prepared 
to be definite, and desired to confine himself to the warning 
that a dreadful and menacing doom was prepared for those 
who, with hard and impenitent hearts, persisted in the ways 
of death. 

It thus appears that the theological bent of St. Paul's 
mind reveals itself even in the negative side of his eschat- 
ology ; leading him to avoid the use of the Gehenna symbol, 
and to substitute for it terms which were in themselves of 
doubtful meaning and which he never sought to define. 
But this tendency is displayed, of course, in a much more 
emphatic way, in that universal strain in his message which 
indicates a steadily growing faith in the love of God for all 
mankind, and in the limitless sweep of that kingdom of life 
which was yet to be established through Jesus Christ the 

2. His doctrine of reconciliation. This evangelical and 
universal side of the Apostle's message is expressed, to some 
extent, in general statements as to the scope of the divine 
purpose in redemption. But it is to be found more explicitly 
in his prophecies of the final Consummation. These latter 
are couched for the most part in apocalyptic terms, but they 

'E.g. Sirach, "So the godless man from nothingness to nothingness" 
(4 1 10 ) ; cf. also, 20 25 etc. ; cf. also Prov. 8 3fi 9 18 etc, 


sometimes owe their form to the influence of Alexandrian 

(a) Among the more remarkable of the sayings which 
express, in direct evangelical terms, the width of the gospel, 
we may note these " God hath shut up all unto disobedience, 
that He might have mercy upon all," 1 "God was in Christ 
reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 It is true that the 
eschatological import of these utterances, and of others like 
them, has been the subject of much debate, but we may agree 
that they assert the universality of God's purpose in salvation, 
and are thus of great value for the light they shed on the 
meaning of those passages in which the Apostle predicts the 
triumph of the Kingdom and the Summing-up of all things in 

(6) The earliest of those Pauline prophecies which are 
capable of bearing an universal interpretation is found in the 
fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians a chapter which 
exhibits with wonderful completeness all the varied character 
istics of the Apostle's genius ; his impetuous logic, his rhetoric, 
his indignation and pathos, the electric leap of his thought 
from point to point, his passionate faith and hope. It is also 
a signal illustration of that originality of mind which enabled 
him to employ the old apocalyptic forms in such a way as to 
express through them his own distinctive gospel and to make 
them the instrument of his speculative thought. 

The portion of this passage which concerns us here is that 
contained in vv. 22-28 . " For as in Adam all die, so also in 
Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order : 
Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at His 
coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall deliver up the 
kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have 
abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must 
reign, till He hath put all His enemies under His feet. The 
last enemy that shall be abolished is death. For, He put all 
things in subjection under His feet. But when He saith, All 
things are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted 
who did subject all things unto Him. And when all things 
1 Bom. II 32 . 2 2 Cor. 6". 


have been subjected unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself 
be subjected to Him that did subject all things unto Him, 
that God may be all in all." l 

Now, the impression produced by this prophecy on the 
average reader is that it predicts a perfect and universal 
triumph of Christ. But this is not the view of all New 
Testament scholars. Many of these, and among them some of 
the most distinguished, read the passage in a strictly limited 
sense. 2 These maintain that, as the resurrection of which the 
Apostle speaks throughout this chapter is that of believers 
only, so also the description of the final blessedness refers 
exclusively to them. It is they only that are to be made alive 
in Christ, and for them alone that God is to be all in all. A 
very restricted interpretation is thus given to the whole 
prophecy an interpretation, too, that is undoubtedly supported 
by many features of the Apostle's statement, and is certainly 
in complete harmony with the general doctrine of Jewish 

This limited rendering is, however, not free from difficulty, 
as is evidenced by the number of theologians who do not 
accept it. 3 These are not all agreed as to the means by which 
the Apostle expected the victory of Christ to be attained. 
But they all believe his doctrine to be that, whether through 
destruction or salvation, the purpose of God will consummate 
itself in a state of universal peace. Certainly there is much 
to be said for this interpretation. The narrower rendering 
appears hardly adequate to the strength of St. Paul's expres 
sions. The prediction that death will be destroyed recalls the 
saying in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, that during 
Messiah's reign sin will come to an end, 4 and seems to indicate 
the disappearance of that entire aspect of things, evil and 
negative, which is represented by death. It is difficult, also, 


2 Cf. Kennedy, St. Paul's Conceptions of the Last Things, p. 308 ff. ; 
Charles, Eschatology, p. 448 ff. ; Pusey, What is of Faith, etc., pp. 32-35 ; 
Weiss, N. T. Theology, p. 404 f. 

3 Cf. Volz, p. 288 ; Beyschlag, N. T. Theology, ii. 276 ff. ; Pfleiderer, 
Paulinism, i. p. 271 If. ; Morgan, Religion and Theology of Paul, pp. 236-238. 

* Levi, 18. 


to limit the sweep of the statement that, excepting only the 
sovereignty of God, all things shall be subjected to Christ. 

Of course it is necessary for us to understand these terms 
in a modified sense if we suppose that this whole chapter is 
one consistent exposition of the truth about the resurrection 
of Christ and of those who are united to Him by faith. But 
need we take this view ? It is beyond doubt that the purpose 
of the Apostle throughout is to expound the doctrine that 
believers shall share with their Lord in His glorious rising 
from the dead. But is it equally certain that the prophecy of 
the Kingdom and its consummation forms an integral part of 
this argument, and that therefore St. Paul's vision of the end 
must be held to concern itself only with the lot that awaits 
the redeemed ? It was not his custom to adhere with logical 
rigour to one fixed line of thought ; he delighted always in 
digressions. And this prophecy of the final triumph is 
probably an illustration of his manner. It is not strictly 
relevant to his main theme of Eesurrection, and might be left 
out of the chapter without impairing its completeness as a 
discussion of that subject. His imagination was fired by the 
emotional intensity of the argument which culminates in the 
exultant affirmation " Now is Christ risen from the dead and 
become the firstfruits of them that slept," and he passed 
straightway from reasoning to prophecy, and from a defence of 
the Kesurrection to a description of that glorious Kingdom of 
which the Resurrection was to form the prelude. Nor did he 
desist from this inspired irrelevance until his vision had 
culminated in that supreme assertion, beyond which neither 
thought nor language can reach, " that God may be all 
in all." 

(c) This seems, on the whole, a reasonable interpretation, 
though one cannot profess any assurance on the matter. And 
it is very much strengthened when we compare this Corinthian 
prophecy with the later teaching of St. Paul. In the Epistles 
to the Colossians, the Ephesians, and the Philippians, the 
Apostle states in the clearest terms that it is the purpose of 
God to achieve a perfect reconciliation through His Son. In 
Ephesians and Colossians this doctrine is expressed in terms 


of Alexandrian thought. Christ is identified with the eternal 
Reason of God, active in creation, providence, and redemption. 
" He is the likeness of the unseen God, born first before all 
the creation for it was by Him that all things were created 
both in heaven and on earth, both the seen and the unseen, 
including Thrones, angelic Lords, celestial Powers and Rulers ; 
all things have been created for Him and by Him ; He is prior 
to all and all coheres in Him. . . . For it was in Him that the 
divine Fulness willed to settle without limit, and by Him it 
willed to reconcile in His own person all on earth and in 
heaven alike, in a peace made by the blood of His cross." 1 In 
Philippians the same doctrine is expressed with even more 
completeness, and in the language of apocalypse " Therefore 
God raised Him high and conferred on Him a name above all 
names, so that before the Name of Jesus every knee should 
bend in heaven, on earth, and underneath the earth, and every 
tongue confess that ' Jesus Christ is Lord,' to the glory of God 
the Father." 2 

(d) Now the universal import of this teaching seems 
beyond question ; and there can be no doubt that it is set forth 
with deliberate dogmatic purpose. If it had been expressed 
only in the terms of apocalypse, or only in those of the 
Philonic philosophy, we might have supposed that its apparent 
force was due to the traditional form in which it was uttered. 
But the matter assumes a very different aspect when we 
consider that the Apostle employs both the Logos doctrine and 
the Kingdom doctrine, to the end that he may predict a victory 
that is a reconciliation and that embraces all the regions of 
life. It cannot have been by accident that St. Paul combined 
the methods of Philo and of Enoch that he might convey 
a message that was not within the thought either of the 
Alexandrian philosopher or of the Jewish mystic. It is, 
indeed, difficult to see how the Apostle could have expressed 
his hope of an universal Kingdom of God with greater variety 
and clearness. (1) He stated in direct evangelical terms that 
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and 

1 Col. I 15 - 20 (Moffatt's translation). 
- Phil. 2 9 ' 11 (Motfatt's translation). 



that He had shut up all unto disobedience that He might have 
mercy upon all. (2) Again, in First Corinthians he so trans 
figured the traditional prophecy of the Messianic Keign as to 
give it a new comprehensiveness. (3) And, finally, in his 
latest writings, he asserted in terms of current speculation 
that God had created all things in Christ and intended to 
reconcile all things in Him ; also, he affirmed in the imagery 
of apocalypse that God had exalted Jesus in order that every 
being in all regions of existence might confess that He was 
Lord. How is it possible to evade the force of all this, or to 
escape the conclusion that he regarded the message so variously 
expressed as a part of the Gospel that was given him to 
declare ? I confess inability to understand those writers who 
emphasise the negative side of the Apostle's teaching, which is 
uttered in one vague form, and yet depreciate the force of a 
prophecy of good which is expressed in the most varied and 
vital terms. 

3. Dogmatic interpretations. We have thus considered the 
doctrine of St. Paul in its twofold bearing on the problem of 
destiny and tried to trace its dogmatic development. But 
there remains the difficulty of showing that his thought had 
attained to harmony that his forewarnings of death can be 
reconciled with his prophecies of Eeconciliation. The darker 
side of his message finds little place in the latest Epistles 
only in two sayings of small importance. 1 But these suffice to 
prove that the Apostle continued to assert that there was such 
a thing as perdition and exclusion from the Kingdom. How, 
then, are we to harmonise the different strains in his thought, 
and to show that he had attained to a logical and consistent 
eschatology ? 

Evidently there are three ways in which this task may at 
least be attempted. 

(1) It may be said that the Apostle thought of the wicked 
as sinking at last into a state of complete moral nonentity 
continuing to exist, indeed, but descending to a level of life 

1 Phil. 3 11 * "Whose end is perdition" (dn-wXeia). Part of a very rhetorical 
saying. Eph. 5* Hath not any "inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of 
God." In Phil. I 28 d?rw\eia has no clear eachatological import. 


beneath that of responsible creatures. If this were his view, 
he would naturally regard the lost as ceasing to belong to the 
spiritual universe ; so that their failure to be included in the 
final Keconciliation would not destroy its completeness, any 
more than if they had been actually dead. This interpretation 
does give a definite meaning to the warning that they who live 
after the flesh must " die " ; and it does succeed after a fashion 
in harmonising the Apostle's doctrine. But it is highly 
artificial ; it implies the very unlikely assertion that St. Paul 
did not believe in the resurrection of the wicked ; l also, it 
overbooks the fact that he describes all the inhabitants of the 
underworld as confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is 
absurd to suppose that creatures whose moral nature had been 
destroyed could be capable of making any confession of faith 

(2) It may be urged that St. Paul believed in the annihila 
tion of the impenitent, and that when he prophesied the re 
conciliation of all creatures he meant to speak of all who 
might remain in existence when the end should come. This 
is the view of many important authorities, 2 and has much to 
be said for it. It gives fulness of meaning to the term " death," 
as used by the Apostle, and presents his teaching as perfectly 
coherent and harmonious throughout. It is, however, difficult 
to believe that if St. Paul had held this clear-cut theological 
doctrine he would have refrained from expressing it in his 
prophecies of the End. Also, it-is to be noted that the Apostle's 
doctrine is that as God had created all things in Christ, so it 
was His purpose to reconcile all things in Him. And it is 
surely hard to harmonise this doctrine with the idea that some 
who had been created through the Son of God would be 
destroyed. " Keconciliation " and " destruction " are not con 
vertible terms. 

(3) It is possible to maintain that St. Paul believed in the 
final salvation of all souls. 3 This is a view which is at present 

1 I see no reason to reject St. Luke's testimony on this point ; c-f. Acts 24 15 . 

2 E.g. Morgan, Religion and Theology of Paul, pp. 237, 238. 

3 See Beyschlag, vol. ii. ; Gordon's Ingersoll lecture : Immortality and the 
New Theodicy, p. 94. 


much derided ; and yet as good a case can be presented for it 
as for either of the other interpretations. It seems to be 
supported by the saying that all in heaven and earth and under 
the earth will unite in the Christian confession l that " Jesus 
Christ is Lord." Also, it is in harmony with the passage in 
Colossians which speaks of the principalities and powers being 
reconciled in Christ. If the Apostle thought that the lords of 
spiritual wickedness might be brought within the peace of 
God, he may surely have entertained the same hope for lost 
men. Further, this interpretation justifies, more fully than 
any other, the prophecy that Christ will attain a complete 
victory over death. It is evident that if death, before being 
itself destroyed, were able to make an end of many of God's 
creatures, it would not be utterly defeated, but would have 
attained to some degree of triumph. Finally, the idea that St. 
Paul taught universal salvation is encouraged by those sayings 
of his which express his predestinarian belief. A high doctrine 
of foreordination, combined with an universal view of the 
redemption wrought in Christ, would logically yield the con 
clusion that all men must be saved. Of course, many objections 
are taken to this rendering of St. Paul's thought, but they are 
not all of equal weight. For instance, there is no certainty 
that his prophecies of doom absolutely exclude the idea of 
redemption beyond the grave. He believed that unregeuerate 
men were " dead " even in this world, and were under the 
dominion of " decay " and " perdition," and yet he taught that 
they might be aroused out of this death and might be delivered 
from this bondage. And so we cannot be quite sure that he 
thought of the state of loss and death and decay hereafter as 
completely endless and incurable. Neither is there much force 
in the argument that if he had believed that men could be 
saved beyond the grave he would have taught the doctrine of 
Future Probation. Thinkers of his time did not speak of 
" future probation " did not conceive the life to come as a 
continuation of the present existence. They thought of it as 
a state of punishment and reward. And when they spoke, as 
some Kabbis did, of sinners emerging from Gehenna, they 
1 Cf. E. F. Scott, Beginnings of tfie Church, Lect. ii. 


simply meant that their term of punishment ended. And it 
is an arguable position that the two sides of St. Paul's teaching, 
taken together, involve a doctrine of this kind. The most 
forcible objections to the Universalist view are that the 
Apostle's warnings of approaching doom do have a note of 
finality in them, and that his prophecies of a final reconciliation 
do not certainly imply that every man will enjoy the fulness 
of redemption. He sometimes speaks as if he distinguished 
between being " reconciled " and being " saved." l And he 
may have regarded the work of Christ as reconciling all men 
unto God, and delivering them from the uttermost doom, 
and yet not have believed that they would all come to the 
measure of the stature of the perfect man in Jesus Christ our 

On the whole, it does not appear that any one of the 
attempts to bring the teachings of St. Paul into perfect 
harmony is altogether successful. The likelihood is that he 
had not attained to the goal of his thinking on this subject. 
He certainly faced the problem of destiny as well as other 
problems of faith. But the work of theological construction 
was not his main concern, nor was it easily pursued. When 
he brought to bear upon the content of his gospel his eager 
speculative mind, and sought to form a theory concerning 
the faith that had been delivered to him, he was beset witli 
difficulties. His training, his inherited ideas, his contact 
with Gentile thought, his busy roaming life, all contributed 
to the burden of his task. It cannot be said that his ex 
planation of any great element in the Evangel is free from 
perplexities. This is true of his teaching about Justification 
and the Person of Christ as well as the doctrine of the Last 

As to this latter subject he at first, in common with the 
majority of the early Christians, held the traditional Jewish 
view ; and traces of this original belief remained with him to 
the end. But, from the hour of his conversion onwards, his 

1 E.g. Rom. 5 l " For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God 
by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled (^araXXa^^Tes), we shall 
be saved (ffo>St)ff6/j.0a) by His life," 


faith in the Kedeemer Christ was the dominating influence in 
all his thought. He might almost have used towards his Lord 
the words of the poet : 

"Behold I dream a dream of good, 
And mingle all the world with Thee." 

And this personal devotion to the Saviour revolutionised his 
whole view of things, and especially his outlook on the Future. 
As his conception of the divine purpose in Christ widened, so 
his doctrine of destiny changed. The idea of foreordination 
had a very strong hold on his mind, as it had on the mind of 
every Jew ; the thought of the will of God being defeated was 
alien to his whole mental habit. And this characteristic of 
his thought, when combined with Christian faith, naturally 
tended towards an ever wider eschatology. He started with 
the belief that God had chosen Israel ; then he came to see 
that this choice of the holy people had been for the sake of a 
spiritual elect among all nations ; finally, the conviction that 
God's purpose in His Son embraced humanity, as it grew upon 
his mind, led him to assert that this purpose would be fulfilled 
in an universal Kingdom of redemption. Till the last he spoke 
of those who were lost, whose end was perdition, but he became 
less and less able to set limit or bound to the reconciling 
energy of God in Jesus Christ the Lord. All this is clear; 
but beyond this we cannot go. We do not know that he ever 
held one definite, coherent theory as to the final state of man 
kind, or that on this subject he had " beat his music out," and 
completed the development of his thought. " It is not in 
cumbent on thee to finish thy work," says the Talmud. And 
the Apostle had not been able to finish his work on the day 
when he went from the Koman prison where he had thought 
so profoundly on things divine to pass by the way of 
martyrdom to that clearer light wherein, as he himself said, 
we see face to face, and know even as also we are known, 




On a review of the whole matter it appears that the 
letter of the New Testament affords evidence that may be held 
to suggest any one, or all three, of the historical Christian 
doctrines of Destiny. If dogmatic meaning be attached to the 
apocalyptic 'imagery, and if the eschatological terms " death," 
" perdition," " decay," " destruction " be read in the light of 
Alexandrian teaching and considered apart from the entire 
apostolic thought then it is legitimate to infer that the sacred 
writings enforce the theory either of Everlasting Evil or of 
Conditional Immortality. If, on the other hand, emphasis be 
laid on the evangelic message to the world which is embodied 
in the character and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in His attitude 
towards mankind, and in His doctrine of God, and which is 
expressed with growing intensity and breadth, especially, by 
the Apostle Paul then it is reasonable to find in the Gospels 
and Epistles the sources of a faith which is as a well of water 
springing up to everlasting hope. 

Which of these views we may incline to adopt as the more 
probable will depend generally on our method of interpretation, 
on our philosophical opinions, and above all on the individual 
temperament that happens to be ours. For there is no depart 
ment of thought in which temperament counts for so much as 
it does in theology. One may conjecture that if the Christian 
Church ultimately comes to hold one unanimous belief respect 
ing the destinies of mankind, that belief will be founded not 
on the import of scriptural texts, but on the general principles 
of the Gospel, as these are unfolded gradually by the interpret 
ing Spirit of truth, and as the mind of universal humanity, now 
so largely under the sway of other religions, comes to accept 
the Christian revelation, and to direct the resources of its 
varied genius to the solution of the problems of the Faith. It 
is, perhaps, impossible that any mere section of humanity can 
attain to an abiding vision of the goal towards which the entire 


race is moving. It may be that only the whole world can 
understand a message that was in the beginning intended for 
the world. 

But, leaving this aside, we have always to remember 
that the New Testament is not a deliberate statement of 
doctrine. It affords the materials out of which dogma is con 
structed, but it does not itself declare dogma. It is not a work 
of systematic theology, but the record of a faith. It tells of 
the life and ministry, the sacrifice and the victory, on which 
that faith is founded ; and shows how its first Apostle sought, 
using the language of their own time, to commend it to the 
hearts and consciences of men, to the end that these might be 
saved. The Apostles were, in the first place, pastors and 
preachers the eager servants of a gospel, not the leisured 
students of a creed. This is true even of St. Paul and St. 
John. They declared a message that had been given them for 
the redemption of the world. Their mission was to proclaim 
the glory of Christ, and to witness to the realities of the 
spiritual and moral order, as these were revealed in the light 
of His face. Among these realities were the peril of sin, the 
avenging forces of retribution ; the blessedness of obedience, 
love, and faith ; the necessity of instant moral decision ; the 
measureless love and immutable righteousness of God. To 
each of these they bore witness, as it presented itself to them ; 
of each they spoke in turn as the circumstances of their work 
required. They saw with vivid clearness : and what they saw 
they taught. 

It is not surprising that the writings of such men should 
contain apparent contradictions. The facts to which they 
witnessed are contradictory. Mercy and judgment are opposed 
to each other ; so also is sin to salvation, the universal rule of 
God to the freedom of man, the conquering purpose of love to 
the obstinate human heart. How, then, could the witnesses to 
all these things maintain consistency in their words ? When 
they saw the evil of the world, the terrible logic of sin working 
out its ends in human lives, they spoke of perdition and 
destruction they said, " Ye shall die." When they felt the 
blessedness of communion with Christ they said that without 


this communion there was no true life. Seeing with open 
vision the majesty of God, they declared the unreality of all 
things that were opposed to Him ; they said that those who 
were out of fellowship with His spirit were living in a vain 
and passing show. Understanding the love of Christ and His 
universal purpose of salvation, they prophesied a complete 
redemption, an end of universal peace. These things are all 
true, and they declared them ; but to show that they could all 
be reconciled in one great rational harmony was not their 
immediate task. The perplexities of their teaching, thus, are 
not of the nature of error; they are found in all moral 
experience; they belong to the content of faith. They are 
" contradictions " which must always appear in the practical 
enforcement of a gospel which applies itself to all the facts of 
our confused and difficult life. 

It is probable that St. John did not feel these oppositions 
to be a burden. He was one of those for whom there are no 
discords in the world of truth one of those 

" With whom the melodies abide 
Of the everlasting chime." 

The Apostle Paul, as we have seen, belonged to a different type 
of mind. He saw that Christianity involved a rational view 
of things, and he strove to express that view. This task he 
pursued with a reverent daring and a splendid confidence in 
the reasonableness of faith which have been the inspiration of 
all who have come after him. Also, his sayings are a perennial 
fountain of hope. But it was not the will of God that Paul 
should bequeath to the Church a complete system of thought. 
It was ordained that he should labour, and that others should 
enter into his labours. It was decreed that he should know in 
part and prophesy in part, and should await the coming of the 
hour when that which is perfect is come and that which is in 
part is done away. 

But however all this may be, there are three assertions 
which we may surely make regarding New Testament teach 
ing (1) Its doctrine of future punishment is perfectly clear, 
and is not in the least affected by any view we may take of 


the bearing of that doctrine on the problem of destiny. That 
every man must reap what he has sown, and receive of the 
things which he has done in the flesh according to what he 
hath done whether it be good or evil this is the unmistak 
able Christian message of judgment. Whatever else may be 
symbolised by Gehenna and its fires, or by "death" and 
" corruption," they certainly mean retribution, just repayment 
and reward. They certainly imply that God will work a 
perfect recompense for every man. And when this has been 
said, all has been said. What more can any one desire, in the 
interests of morality, than the assurance of ordered retribution ? 
Who can ask that sin should be punished beyond the demands 
of righteousness ? 

(2) But, again, we may affirm that the negative side of New 
Testament eschatology does not suggest belief in the eternity 
of sin. There is no evidence that Apostles and Evangelists, 
any more than other writers of their time, thought that men 
would go on for ever in a state of positive rebellion against 
God. If they believed in unending evil, it was in the sense of 
perpetual penalty, not of everlasting transgression. Whatever 
may be the speculative advantages of maintaining that the lost 
will never cease to suffer because they will never cease to work 
iniquity, this is not the doctrine of the New Testament, as it 
has not been the common teaching of the Christian Church. 
The idea of an eternal moral discord in the universe was 
probably as distasteful to Paul as it was to Augustine. 

(3) Finally, the new Testament, in the positive aspect of its 
message, does distinctly affirm that, in some sense, the redeem 
ing intention of God in Christ must attain to final victory. 
That this element in its message should be emphasised by 
Christian thought as the master note of Revelation is most 
reasonable, since it constitutes the originality and glory of 
apostolic teaching. It is altogether a fair tiling to say that 
the assertion of God's universal purpose in salvation was, in a 
peculiar sense, a direct inspiration of the spirit of Christ. The 
conviction it expresses was not inherited by Apostles and 
Evangelists. It is not in Philo ; it is not in Enoch ; it is but 
rarely suggested in old Rabbinic lore. That they might give 


it fulness of utterance, the Christian teachers had to unlearn 
many things, and to depart from ancient forms of thought. 
To express it, the Apostle Paul was compelled to do violence 
to the apocalyptic genius ; and to force that ancient prophet 
of wrath to proclaim the final domination of grace. The 
assurance that the end of things shall see the universal 
triumph of Christ is thus the supreme and dominant chord in 
the gospel message ; achieved at a great price ; not derived 
from man, nor obtained by tradition from the Fathers, but 
received indeed of the Lord. And although it be not exclusive 
of such solemn thoughts regarding the irreparable consequences 
of sin as are inspired by experience and revelation, it is yet the 
master of these; to it they must submit themselves, and with 
it they must be reconciled. 




IN an earlier chapter attention was directed to the apocalyptic 
conception of future punishment, and an endeavour was made 
to show that the doctrine of Gehenna was a prophecy of judg 
ment and retribution, not a theory of final destiny. It is now 
our task to consider the dogma which asserts, on grounds of 
revelation, reason, and experience, that evil is everlasting. It 
is well thus to speak of " unending evil " rather than of 
" unending punishment," for the reason that while some 
theologians affirm only that penalty endures for ever, others 
assert that sin will last to all eternity and will continue to 
" register itself " in suffering. The phrase " everlasting evil " 
embraces both these views, and is, therefore, more accurate 
than the alternative expression. Besides this, it emphasises 
the point which is really at issue in the controversy regarding 
the probable end of things. The question is not, primarily, 
whether all men will ultimately be happy, but whether evil is 
a permanent fact in the universe. 

Now, it will lend itself to an orderly study of this subject 
if we consider in succession the following points : (1) The 
claim of the theory in question to be the universal doctrine of 
the Christian Church. (2) Modern expositions of it. (3) The 
value of it as a speculative construction. (4) The spiritual 
and moral content to which it may be said to owe its power 
and persistence. 





It is often said that the doctrine of Everlasting Evil is an 
essential part of the Christian religion one of the distinctive 
characteristics of its historical witness. And if this contention 
could be admitted in all its force if it could be shown that 
the solemn Councils of the successive ages had declared this 
dogma, that the great teachers of Christianity had, with one 
accord and in one form, confessed it, and that the authoritative 
Creeds had all confirmed it then, indeed, an argument in its 
favour would be presented of the utmost weight and value. 
The universal belief of the Church, maintained throughout the 
centuries, is not a thing which we may lightly disregard. 
But, as a matter of historical fact, the claim in question can be 
acknowledged only in a very modified sense. 

It is, no doubt, true in a general way that the great 
majority of Christians since the early times have believed that 
those who die impenitent are utterly lost. It is also true that 
this is the doctrine which has been commonly proclaimed in 
popular address. So that, if ordinary opinion is to be accepted 
as the testimony of the Church, we must hold this testimony 
to be that evil is everlasting. Nay, we must affirm that the 
Christian view of destiny implies that great multitudes of men 
will enter at death into a state of physical torment without 
relief and without end. 

Things present a different aspect, however, if we assume 
that the witness of the Christian society, in matters, of doctrine 
as distinct from faith, is to be found in the statements of the 
Creeds and in the teaching of thoughtful men. It is a remark 
able fact that no important period of the Church's life, and no 
one of the great schools of theological thought, has shown com 
plete harmony in its teaching on this subject. It is notable, 
also, that this want of agreement presents itself especially in 
the earliest and in the latest period of ecclesiastical history. 

Early Church. (a) During that formative age, which 
ended, perhaps, with Augustine, the primitive eschatological 


belief developed through a stage of discussion and debate, and 
attained at last to something like dogmatic definition. But, 
little sign of speculative thought regarding the Last Things is 
to be found in the writings of those teachers who immediately 
succeeded the Apostles. In the works of the Apostolic Fathers 
we have to seek long and carefully for any definite references 
whatsoever to the subject of future destiny. We find, indeed, 
some sayings like the following : " Every one shall depart 
unto his proper place." l " Nothing shall deliver us from 
eternal punishment if we disobey His commands." 2 "The 
way of darkness ... is the way of eternal death with punish 
ment." 3 " For the day is at hand in which all things shall be 
destroyed, with the evil one." 4 It is evident, however, that 
such sayings do not afford us very much light. Ignatius 
remarks that those who deny the reality of our Lord's bodily 
life shall have fitting punishment when, " being divested of the 
body, they shall become mere spirits." 5 That is to say. that 
having denied the body of Jesus, they shall have no body them 
selves. And this is a prophecy which indicates an ingenious 
tnind free from the shackles of definite opinion. 

We shall have occasion to show later that the Greek 
Apologists, developing the doctrine of the Logos on the lines 
partly of Philo and partly of St. John, tended towards the 
doctrine of Conditional Immortality. The same tendency is 
shown also in Irenaeus ; though in his case, as in that of earlier 
writers, it is confused by contradictory statements. On the 
other hand, Athenagoras, who is the most lucid writer among 
the Apologists, teaches with precision the necessary immortality 
of the whole human nature. Also, he significantly confines 
his doctrine of future punishment to the statement that " the 
reward or punishment of lives, ill or well spent, is proportioned 
to the merit of each." 7 It is a pity that we do not possess 
more of the work of this man who seems to have been so fitted 

1 Ignatius, Magn. c. v. 

2 Second Epist. of Clement (so-called), c. vi. 

3 Epist. of Barnabas, c. xx. * Ibid. c. xxi. 

5 Smyrn. c. ii. 6 DC Resurrection*, c. XT. 

7 Ibid. c. xxv. 


to guide the thought of the Church along the lines of sanity 
and moderation. 

But if there was, thus, a want of dogmatic coherence in the 
teaching of the Apologists on this subject, much more was 
there a lack of unanimity among the teachers of the succeeding 
age. To labour this point would, indeed, be " wasteful and 
ridiculous excess." How can we say that there was harmony 
at the time when the greatest genius and most learned scholar 
of the Church was teaching Universal Restoration, or in the 
fourth century when Arnobius tranquilly expounded the 
doctrine of annihilation, and the Bishop of Nyssa elaborated 
the message of Origen ? l How can there have been unity 
even in the fifth century when Augustine had to reason at 
length with the large party that denied Everlasting Torment ? 

(6) It is not necessary, then, to illustrate further the 
variety of eschatological opinion which reveals itself in the 
writings of the early theologians. Indeed, to do so would be 
to repeat what has been said in a former chapter, and also to 
anticipate much that must be stated in the course of our 
further discussion. It may be worth while, however, to 
remind ourselves, at this point, that the great Creeds 2 of the 
undivided Church maintain a singular silence regarding the 
doctrine of Eternal Evil. This feature of the early Confessions 
is sometimes explained by the supposition that the doctrine 
in question was a matter of general agreement, and therefore 
did not call for notice in statements of belief which referred 
to controversial issues. But we have seen that this is a view 
which cannot be entertained. The facts do not support it ; 
Augustine himself is witness against it. More weight may be 
attached to the contention that the early Creeds were con 
cerned with christological problems, and that, for this reason, 
the doctrine of the Last Things lay beyond their sphere. But 
this consideration does not apply to the Apostles' Creed, which 
was the complete expression of the primitive Eule of Faith, 
and attained to practically its final form during the period of 

1 Recoynitions of Clement (probably third cetitury) teaches quite clearly the 
doctrine of Everlasting Evil. Book v. ch. 28. 

2 Of. App. IV. 


eschatological debate. It is certainly remarkable that this 
venerable and truly catholic Confession should have nothing to 
say regarding the ultimate fate of the lost. It is quite fair to 
find in this characteristic of the Apostles' Creed conclusive evi 
dence that no dogmatic belief on the subject of ultimate destiny 
was imposed upon the Christian mind of the earlier days. 

Medieval period. We may say, of course, that in later times 
the doctrine of Eternal Evil dominated the thought of the 
Church. But even this is a statement that cannot be made 
without comment or qualification. The theology of the 
Middle Ages, for instance, is commonly credited with a 
wonderful unanimity of opinion on the subject of destiny. 
But our later discussion will show reasons for modifying some 
what this general belief. We shall see that there was positive 
dissent from the prevailing dogma even during that period 
which we call " the Dark Ages." Allowance must also be 
made for the imperfection of our knowledge regarding that 
great era. But, especially, we must beware of concluding that 
the Catholic conception of theological conformity, as it is 
revealed in the work of the Schoolmen, was the same as that 
of the modern Calvinistic Churches. It would be foolish to 
suppose, in particular, that the scholastic theories of perdition 
would have satisfied a Presbyterian General Assembly of 
Victorian times. A study of the medieval period shows that 
the Roman eschatology permitted considerable variety of 
interpretation, and was susceptible of certain mitigations and 
reliefs. It retained Origen's belief in a purifying discipline 
beyond the grave; and it commonly asserted that future 
punishment would be proportionate in severity to the degree 
of individual guilt, that there would be intervals of relief from 
pain in hell, and even that positive suffering would have an 
end. Erigena was supposed to maintain his peace with the 
Church by saying that, while perdition would not last for ever, 
the " phantasm " of it would linger the ghost of a dead terror 
haunting the soul. Also, it is to be remembered that the 
Church never defined the doctrine of Everlasting Punishment 
with any precision in its creeds. This element of freedom in 
medieval theology is, indeed, fully illustrated in the great 


poeni which is its best expression. Thus Darite describes 
Virgil as dwelling within the gates of Hell ; but he does not 
indicate that Virgil suffered any torment or sorrow. The 
Koman poet is presented as the serene guide of the Christian 
through the regions of the lost. Also, Dante depicts the 
spiritual state of souls who inhabit the borderland of Hell as 
very much like the condition of those who live on the lower 
levels of Paradise. Mr. Gladstone remarked once that Dante's 
optimism was too facile, too easily reached ; l and, while we may 
not go so far as this, we may yet agree that he was no pessimist, 
that his ultimate message was hopeful, and that, in the freedom 
and humanity of his outlook and the elusiveness of his thought 
not less than in the formal rigour and severity of his doctrine, 
he represents the true genius of medieval Christianity. 

Modern Church. (a) It cannot be said that the Eeforma- 
tion, in so far as its official statements were concerned, 
increased the freedom of eschatological belief. The Protestant 
Church affirmed the doctrine of Unending Perdition in an 
absolute way ; and its Confessions of Faith left no room for 
diversity of opinion. It excluded the notion of remedial 
discipline after death ; it did not encourage the idea that there 
would be degrees of future punishment; it entertained no 
hope that the lost might experience any times of ease from 
pain, or that positive suffering would have an end. In short, 
it swept away all the subtleties and illogical humanities of the 
older theology, and stated the dogma of Perpetual Torment in 
all its blank incredibility. It is true that the Socinians taught 
the annihilation of the wicked ; that the Zwinglian Confession 
disclaimed knowledge as to the ultimate fate of the lost ; and 
that the Anabaptists commonly entertained Universalist 
opinions, while the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of 
England are silent on this subject. But, in the main, the 
Protestant creeds are in agreement with the teaching of the 
Westminster Confession. And so it would appear that, on the 
whole, the Keformed eschatology was more rigid and less 
humane than that of the ancient faith. 

(6) On the other hand, it is, of course, to be remembered 

1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, iii. p. 488. 


that the Reformation period witnessed a great revival of 
individual speculation on all religious questions, and especially 
on those which concern the life to come. The strictness of 
the Protestant doctrine, and, in particular, its departure from 
the idea of the Intermediate State, led of necessity to protest 
and revolt. The refusal of the Reformed Church to allow 
liberty of interpretation within the limits of dogma has been, 
perhaps, the main source of that agnostic indifference to the 
problems of immortality which prevails so widely in our day. 
It is, however, sufficient for our purpose here to state the 
incontestable truth that Protestant theologians have never 
been in agreement in their doctrine of the End. 

The question we have before us is the extent to which it 
can be said that the dogma of Everlasting Evil represents the 
universal witness of Christian thought; and, in considering 
this matter, it is necessary to bear in mind the testimony of 
thinkers and scholars, as well as of ecclesiastics and preachers 
and religious laymen and the Assemblies that framed the 
creeds. And, when we look at the subject from this point of 
view, we see that no church, or school of thought, has been 
unanimous in affirming what is called the orthodox theory of 
destiny not the Fathers, nor the Medieval thinkers, nor the 
Mystics ; not the Romans, nor the Anglicans, nor the Calvinists, 
nor the Lutherans. It is plain, therefore, that the harmony of 
belief which is said to characterise the Christian Church has 
prevailed only in the popular mind and has not been found 
among theologians. Wherever trained reflection has been 
brought to bear on the problem of destiny, divergence of 
opinion has sooner or later appeared. 

(c) We may, of course, be reminded that this variety of 
intellectual view has shown itself in all departments of 
religious inquiry ; that it is not confined to eschatology, and 
therefore cannot be held to compromise in any peculiar way 
the claim of the traditional doctrine of destiny to represent 
the normal Christian faith. But the reply to this is that 
differences of opinion regarding other matters, as, for instance, 
the person of Christ, have been concerned, for the most part, 
with questions of definition and rational statement, whereas 


eschatological controversy has been directed towards the 
fundamental issue whether evil is everlasting. The only 
analogous case to the opposition between the orthodox view 
of the end of things and the Conditionalist or Universalist 
assertion is to be found in the difference between the Christology 
of the creeds and the purely naturalistic view of Jesus Christ. 
It is generally true to say that all thinkers who have remained 
within the orthodox Church have accepted, whatever their 
speculative opinions may have been, the Christian attitude 
towards Jesus as the Lord and Eedeemer of the soul. But 
those who affirm that the wicked will be destroyed, or that all 
men will be saved, deny the substance of the accepted dogma, 
inasmuch as they assert that evil will pass away. 

OUT own times. (a) Granting, however, that in the main 
Christian theology from the time of Augustine till quite 
recently has affirmed a theory of Everlasting Punishment, we 
are still confronted with the fact that in this latter age the 
mind of the Church is seen to be returning towards the free 
standpoint of the primitive time. Even within the Roman 
Communion the Modernist movement threatens to exercise a 
radical influence on eschatology. Books like Von Hiigel's 
Eternal Life and Tyrrell's Christianity at the Crossroads are 
very significant, if only for the things they leave unsaid. 
Also, much allowance is to be made for the subtle and elusive 
genius of Catholicism which always serves to modify the 
detiniteness of dogma. It is interesting to note that, in the 
biography of Mrs. Craigie, her spiritual director tells us that 
she was greatly troubled about the doctrine of eternal punish 
ment, and that he assured her that many difficulties did not 
make one doubt, nor were many doubts equal to denial. If 
we think about this statement we see that the freedom it 
affords is almost without limit. There is emancipation in the 
knowledge that we may suspect ever so strongly that a door 
is open, and yet may believe that the door is shut. 

(b) There is no need to dwell on the truth that the modern 
Protestant Church is reverting to the early mood of eschato 
logical thought. Indeed it may be urged with considerable 
force that the practical power of the Gospel in our time is 


being somewhat weakened by want of dogmatic; assurance 
regarding the whole subject of future retribution. We are not 
altogether true to the apostolic tradition when we preach 
" righteousness and temperance " and fail to speak of " judg 
ment to come." In any case, we must admit that the 
Eeformed theology and the Evangelical pulpit of to-day are 
sparing in eschatological prophecy. We cannot doubt, also, 
that, if a creed were to be formulated at this hour, any 
endeavour to embody in it a clear statement of the old dogma 
would be opposed by many of our most trusted teachers. 

(c) The most significant sign of the times, in this regard, is 
the increasing tendency among Evangelical theologians to 
adopt an " agnostic " attitude towards the whole problem of 
Destiny. This type of thought is, indeed, so prevalent and so 
influential that it may be well to indicate its general character 
istics. For example, it always affirms that the scriptural 
evidence is inconclusive; it commonly accepts the theory of 
Future Probation or Opportunity; it is energetic in its 
criticism of more dogmatic views. But its most distinctive 
feature is that it is generally stated in such a way as to show 
that its advocate inclines towards some positive conclusion. 
It is rarely colourless; being usually touched with a hue 
either hopeful or despondent. Thus, Dr. Agar Beet, while he 
asserts, on scriptural grounds, an agnostic view, yet finds no 
speculative weakness in Conditionalism. 1 In like manner, 
Principal Griffith Jones refuses to affirm any assurance as to 
the issue of things ; also he subjects the theory of Conditional 
Immortality to very severe criticism, and rejects the belief in 
Universal Salvation. Yet, in his constructive statement, he 
expounds the doctrine of Future Probation, and concludes, in 
effect, that all men will be saved except, perhaps, some obdurate 
souls whom God will utterly destroy. And so his own position 
seems to be a combination of two theories, each of which he 
rejects. It is Universalism, qualified by the thought of 
annihilation. 2 Principal Fairbairn, again, teaches that God 
will always seek to redeem men, but that He will respect the 

1 Of. The Last Things, passim. 

2 Faith and Imnwriality, pp. 239-279, 292. 


freedom of the will ; He will neither force them to repent nor 
consign them to destruction. Hence his struggle against sin 
may be unavailing. But should God's purpose of universal 
salvation fail, " yet He will have been so manifested, by the 
attempt at it, that all the universe will feel as if there had 
come to it a vision of love that made it taste the ecstasy and 
beatitude of the divine." 1 Now this may be agnosticism, but 
it has hope in its heart. 

Similarly, Dr. H. E. Mackintosh grants that the Universalist 
view is permissible, as a private opinion and a source of 
individual comfort, if it be held in the form of "a hope." 
Such a hope, he says, is " a natural infringement " of that 
" nearly complete agnosticism " which he believes to be 
involved in the nature of Christian faith. 2 In like manner, 
Dr. James Orr's eschatological teaching shows a progressive 
tendency towards optimism, though he thinks that we do not 
possess " a calculus " by which we can decide so vast a question 
as that of universal destiny. 3 Dorner, again, although he 
asserts that " the ultimate fate of individuals remains veiled in 
mystery," and although he recognises great force in the orthodox 
contention, yet makes statements that are consistent only with 
belief in a final harmony. Thus he says that " the soul 
remains metaphysically good," and that " provision must be 
made somehow against a dualism being perpetuated for ever." 4 
His final statement on the subject of perdition lacks the 
coherence and vigour of his work as a whole, and is, indeed, a 
tissue of broken threads and discordant colours. But it is 
quite clear that, at this point, the optimism of his philosophy 
is at variance with his Lutheran orthodoxy. 

Kitschl, on the other hand, teaches that the appointed end 
of the sinner is annihilation, but that we cannot know whether 
any will actually incur that doom. 5 And Martensen, while he 

1 Chritt in Modern Theology, p. 468. 

2 Immortality and the Future, p. 205, etc. 

3 Cf. Christian View, etc., pp. 336-347, and Progress of Dogma, pp. 15, 

4 System of Christian Doctrine, iv. 416-428. 

8 Cf. Orr, The 1'dtschlian Theology, p. 140 ; Garvie, The Ritschlian Theology, 
p. 261. 


professes uncertainty as to the issue of things and finds the 
scriptural evidence inconclusive, yet writes generally in the 
tone of a firm believer in unending penalty. 1 

(d) Thus, we may discern in the statements of all agnostic 
writers an inclination towards one or other of the positive 
theories. Even when their position is not merely one of 
personal doubt, but is the dogmatic assertion that nothing can 
be known on the subject of final destiny, they generally pursue 
a line of argument which is hostile to this or that solution of 
the problem in view. And it may be urged that in this 
respect they do not submit to the rigour of their own logic. 
It is evident that, if nothing can be discovered regarding the 
fate of mankind, no one theory on the matter can be preferred 
to its rivals. We cannot exclude any possibility when we are 
dealing with a theme that belongs to the unknowable. But 
however this may be, there can be no doubt that agnosticism 
is just as hostile to the traditional doctrine as Universalism 
itself. Nay, it is even more so ; since one may hope to refute 
those who say that all men will be saved, whereas we have no 
weapon that we can use with effect against an opponent who 
denies us the right to make any assertion at all. 2 

(e) Now, all this must be kept in memory when we ask 
ourselves whether or no the traditional dogma is an essential 
part of our Christian faith. Surely the witness of the modern 
mind is as much to be respected as the testimony of medieval 
piety. Surely the one is not less worthy than the other to be 
taken into account in an endeavour to estimate the teaching 
of historical Christianity. If the state of divided opinion 
regarding human destiny which prevailed in the early days 
is appearing again, in a more vivid form, in these latter times, 
it is impossible to speak as if the testimony of the Church 
were unanimous and clear. That testimony was not harmonious 
in the beginning ; it is not harmonious now ; neither is it 
likely to be so in the years that are to come. And so we may 
conclude that, while the claim of the doctrine of Everlasting 
Evil to be the universal Christian belief has sufficient support 

1 Christian Dogmatics, pp. 474-479. 

2 Cf. also Garvie, Ritschlian Theology, pp. 360-362. 


to secure respect and to compel the admission that it is the 
custodian of important truth, we are not constrained to say 
that this doctrine, in its dogmatic form, is binding on the 
Christian conscience, or is entitled to the veneration rightly 
accorded to whatever has been always, everywhere, and by all 
men believed. . 



Let this suffice, then, for a discussion of the first point in 
this chapter. We must now proceed to offer some illustration 
of the forms in which the doctrine of Everlasting Evil has been 
stated in modern theory. One need not allude, of course, to 
writers like Newman and Pusey who, following Augustine, 
have adhered to the apocalyptic tradition, since their teaching 
has been considered in an earlier part of our study. Nor is it 
necessary to take into account the work of theologians like 
Jonathan Edwards, who do not admit that the idea of unending 
misery presents any difficulties, and who discern in everlasting 
torment a glorious and necessary manifestation of the justice 
of God. To say that the perpetual pain of the creature is 
essential for the revelation of divine righteousness, implies that 
if men had never sinned, justice would never have been 
exercised. It is equal, also, to the absurd notion that equity 
would cease to exist in a country if jails and gibbets were no 
longer necessary therein. By " modern expositions " one 
means those which, whatever their date may be, respond to 
such influences as move the modern mind. Hence, I propose 
to refer chiefly to the greatest of Roman theologians, Thomas 
Aquinas; to the most systematic of Protestant mystics, 
Sweden borg ; and to a typical work of evangelical orthodoxy, 
Salmond's Christian Doctrine of Immortality. I hope to show 
that these teachers, while they differ in many respects, have 
yet some common characteristics that, for instance, they all 
suggest alleviations of the ancient doctrine, and all show a 
tendency towards compromise with opposing theories. No 


doubt the same features of thought might be illustrated by the 
study of many other writers, as, for example, Julius Miiller, 
who thinks that those only will be finally lost who commit 
the unpardonable sin, which consists in " hatred of whatever 
is known to be divine and god-like." l One might also allude 
to the opinion expressed by A. B. Bruce, that we may hope for 
the salvation of all who are not utterly conformed to the 
nature of devils. 2 But an account of the doctrine expounded 
by the three theologians mentioned above may be sufficient for 
the purpose one has in view. 

1. Aquinas. We find the main elements of many later 
constructions in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas. Modern 
theologians might learn a great deal from the Angelic Doctor 
in the matter of fairness towards opponents, as well as of 
exact definition and of speculative courage. In studying the 
work of this great teacher, we find ourselves in presence of a 
mind which counts nothing that concerns the faith to be so 
small as not to merit careful attention, and, on the other hand, 
considers no mystery of the gospel too high, and no problem 
too hard, to be within the scope of reverent rational discussion. 
In him there dwelt a splendid confidence in the reasonableness 
of religion, a fine accuracy of thought, and a brave disdain of 
all resort to mere rhetoric and easy generalising. Also, we 
discern in his writings clear proof of a thing which the study 
of other medieval teachers leads us to suspect ; namely, that 
the religious intelligence of those days was keenly alive to the 
difficulties of theological construction, and was confronted by 
the same objections as have been taken in later times to the 
teaching of Catholic Christianity. 

(a) Aquinas expounds a doctrine of future retribution 
which is orthodox in form ; but it is stated with characteristic 
subtlety and care ; and when it is closely examined it suggests 
some dubious questionings. He teaches that character is fixed 
at death being thereafter incapable of change, for good or for 
evil. The punishment of the lost is partly physical and 
intellectual torment, and partly spiritual privation. Divine 

1 Christian Doctrine of Sin, vol. ii. p. 422. 

2 Kingdom of God, p. 319. 


mercy is, nevertheless, displayed even in retribution, as it is 
always less than is deserved. 1 The physical punishment 
of the condemned will be torture by fire. Their intellectual 
suffering will consist in regret for past sin, not because of its 
guilt, but because of its consequences. It will also be the pain 
which they will endure in seeing others enjoy a happiness 
which they cannot share. As to their moral state, they will 
desire and purpose only what is evil. Aquinas admits that 
the will of a man can be moved only by that which seems to 
him to be good ; but then he holds that evil will appear to be 
good in the eyes of the reprobate, and so will determine their 
volition. They will not think of God except as their judge 
and the author of their woes, and will therefore have no 
emotion towards Him save that of utter terror and hatred. 2 

(&) Aquinas, of course, affirms the everlasting duration of 
future punishment. But he does not say, as some less careful 
thinkers have done, that finite offence deserves infinite 
penalty ; nor does he assert that every kind of future 
punishment is unending, or that all the condemned endure 
the same degree of chastisement. He is enabled to escape 
these assertions by drawing a subtle distinction between 
different aspects of sin and their corresponding penalties. 
From one point of view sin is a " turning away from the 
immutable good (incommutdbile lonum} which is infinite ; 
therefore in this respect sin is infinite." From another stand 
point it is " an inordinate 'turning to the mutable good 
(commutabile bonutn)." In this respect it is finite, because " the 
mutable good is finite, and because the act of turning towards 
it is the act of a finite creature." In the former of these two 
aspects sin, being a turning away from God and from the 
supreme end of life, is a breach of the eternal order ; is there 
fore irreparable and involves the penalty of loss (poena damni), 
which is infinite, since it is the loss of the infinite good 
namely, God. In the latter aspect of it, however, sin, being 
finite in its character, incurs the penalty of sensible torment 
(poena sensns), which is also finite. So that, according to 

1 Pars I. Quaest. xxi. Art. 4. 

2 Pars in. Quaest. cxxix. passim. 


Aquinas, the only punishment which is everlasting is that of 
spiritual loss. 1 

(c) Now, it is evident that this construction presents 
remarkable features. In the first place, it asserts an austere 
and terrible doctrine of retribution, but at the same time frees 
us from the burden of belief in unending torment. In the 
second place, it describes the state of the impenitent as one, 
practically, of moral extinction. If these are, as Aquinas says 
they are, reduced to a condition in which evil has become their 
good, they have passed out of the moral universe as it is known 
to us. For it is an essential of the divine order as revealed to 
us in experience, that good is the reality of things, and evil is 
the negation of that reality. And so, if the lost have entered 
into a life in which that which is positive is seen to be 
negative, and that which is divine to be evil, they have gone 
into a state of perception which differs fundamentally from 
that which is ours, and is a reversal of all truth. They have 
passed into a world of dreams, and are themselves become as a 
dream. Also, inasmuch as they have become incapable of 
choosing good, they have lost ethical existence, for the power 
of choosing the right is of the substance of responsible being. 
Whoever has absolutely lost it, is no more a moral creature 
than is a stick or a stone. If it be objected that the blessed in 
heaven have become incapable of choosing evil, and that 
therefore they might, by parity of reasoning, be held also to 
have lost ethical existence, the answer, of course, is that the 
inability of the redeemed to sin is due to a continual exercise 
of free choice, inspired by the knowledge that sin is utterly 
vain and without attraction. Also, the state of being unable 
to do wrong is the normal, ideal condition of the soul, and, so 
far from being bondage, is the only true freedom. 

In the third place, it is apparent that eternal punishment, 
which according to Aquinas is " the loss of God," need not 
necessarily imply positive misery, seeing that it means, not 
expulsion from the region of the divine government and 
presence (since God is present everywhere and governs all 
things), but only the loss of spiritual communion with Him 

1 Pars ii. (1) Qvaest. Ixxxvii. Arts. 2, 3, 4, 5. 


and the blessing of His grace. And this deprivation is a 
penalty which creatures who have lost moral life cannot feel 
to be a burden, or even be conscious of at all. 

(d) It thus appears that this speculative statement of 
Aquinas agrees with the popular doctrine of Everlasting Evil 
only in form. It denies that pain will be unending and this, 
apparently, in the sense both of physical and intellectual 
suffering. It is true that Aquinas speaks of the lost as finding 
continual sorrow in the spectacle of joys which the righteous 
in heaven possess. But it is evident that creatures to whom 
evil seems good, and good evil, cannot continue to regret the 
loss of joys which are based on goodness, or view with envy a 
happiness of the saints which must seem to them misery. 
Hence, Aquinas implies the possibility of the lost finding 
existence to be tolerable enough, at least in a negative way. 
Also, he does not really affirm the unending nature of sin, 
since creatures that are incapable of choice are incapable of 
guilt. Finally, while he asserts that all souls are physically 
immortal, he really denies their continued existence as citizens 
of the moral universe. 

2. fiwedenborg. Now, these features of the doctrine of 
Aquinas arc reproduced with wonderful fidelity in later teach 
ing. For instance, Swedenborg explicitly affirms, what Aquinas 
only implies, that perdition will not be a state of unmingled 
misery. The inhabitants of hell will have cheir own pleasures, 
their own activities and interests. Horrid scents and tastes 
will seem sweet and pleasant to them ; and they will find a 
delight in evil, just as the blessed will in goodness. 1 Sweden 
borg also, like the great Schoolman, teaches a doctrine of 
moral annihilation. He affirms that the lost will reach at last 
a condition of dull brutishness in which they will be incapable 
of any choice, and will have descended beneath the level of 
good and evil. This means, of course, that they will have 
ceased to exist as responsible beings. Their continuance in 
mere life will be of no moment in the moral world any more 
than that of snakes or vultures. As far as that world is con 
cerned, they will be dead and done with. This doctrine thus 
1 A'ngelic Wisdom, p. 352 passim. 


resembles that of Aquinas in that it does not really involve 
the permanence of human sin or suffering ; since the lost will 
have ceased to be conscious of any good or evil, of any pain or 

3. Salmond. But the standard statement of the modern 
Evangelical doctrine of Everlasting Evil is, perhaps, Principal 
Salmond's Christian Doctrine of Immortality ; and the teaching 
of this book also does approach in some of its conclusions 
towards those of Aquinas and Swedenborg ; though, of course, 
it differs widely from both of these in form and standpoint. 

(a) Dr. Salmond's exposition presents some puzzling 
features, and departs in many ways from the traditional view 
so widely that one is surprised at the cordial reception it 
enjoyed in orthodox circles. He says that the doctrine of 
eternal punishment " has to get the benefit of that finer moral 
sense, those purer and higher ideals of punishment, those 
humaner feelings, that deeper insight into the intrinsic nature 
of things, which are the result of the gradual informing of 
men's minds with the spirit of Christianity." * He also pleads 
that " the doctrine has no necessary connection with the ideas 
of punishment that were once current, or with those realistic 
pictures of hell with which it has been burdened." z And yet 
Dr. Salmond in an earlier part of his book appeals, in support 
of his position, to passages in the Gospels which embody those 
very ideas of punishment, and are the foundation of those very 
pictures of hell, which he deprecates. 3 We cannot help asking 
how it comes to be that Jesus can be held to have taught the 
Jewish doctrine of torments, and yet to have informed men's 
minds with a spirit which has made that doctrine incredible. 

As we study this writer's statement further, we see more 
and more clearly how far he has departed from the traditional 
position. He warns us that the dogma he defends " is not to 
be associated with metaphysical ideas of eternity " 4 a saying 
that opens the door to much curious speculation. It is so 
difficult to think of any ideas of eternity that are not meta 
physical ! Dr. Salmond also says that, for many people, " death 

1 P. 664. - P. 664. 

3 P. 359 ff. * P. 664. 


itself may be their purgatory. In multitudes of human beings 
there may be in the crisis of death or in the valley of the 
shadow the first workings of a change in the principle of their 
lives, and what may thus begin shall grow." Also, he affirms 
that " the heathen are to be judged by the light they have," 
and that there will be degrees of punishment. He thinks that 
"this doctrine of degrees gives all the relief which other 
theories of the future profess to give." His view is that all 
who die with the least turning of the soul to God will go on 
gradually rising to a higher arid higher state of blessedness ; 
while those who depart this life in a condition of impenitence 
will steadily descend lower and lower through successive stages 
of ever deepening weakness, misery, and death. 1 

(Z>) Dr. Salmond's theory thus resembles very closely those 
of earlier writers. It embodies something very like the idea 
of purgatory, inasmuch as it teaches that those who pass the 
frontiers of death with their faces turned towards righteousness 
experience a process of development towards eternal life. On 
the other hand, it approaches closely, as do Aquinas and 
Swedenborg, to the doctrine of Conditional Immortality, since 
it maintains that the lost proceed continuously downward from 
depth to depth of ever increasing perdition. Where is this 
downward process to end ? Surely, in a condition of moral 
futility which is, from the religious point of view, equal to 

General Analysis. (a) I have thus endeavoured to 
illustrate the varieties of orthodox doctrine by reference to 
the teaching of the greatest of the Schoolmen, of the most 
powerful thinker among the later mystics, and pf a standard 
work of modern evangelical theology. In the course of this 
study we have seen how important are the points in which 
these teachers resemble each other their common desire to 
lighten the burden of the traditional dogma, their general 
agreement in describing the final state of the lost as empty of 
positive content, their unanimity in affirming that evil is ever 
lasting, in some form of perdition. 

(ft) On the other hand, it is apparent that the expositions 
1 P. 671 ff. 


of the writers we have named, as well as of maiiy others who 
might have been mentioned, reveal the sharp and even radical 
oppositions which exist within the domain of traditional 
thought. We cannot find agreement among orthodox thinkers 
regarding some of the most important questions, as, for instance, 
these : Is eternal punishment the just penalty of a sinful life, 1 
or is it to be said, rather, that men will suffer always because 
they will always continue to sin ? z Does opportunity end at 
death, 3 or does it extend to the Judgment ? 4 Does the state 
of the lost remain fixed and unchangeable, 6 or is it a condition 
of progress downwards, from depth to depth and from hell to 
hell ? 6 Does God continue for ever to seek the salvation of 
men, 7 or does He withdraw His grace from us when heart and 
flesh do faint and fail ? 8 Is the endless penalty of sin actual 
pain and misery, 9 or is it simply moral loss and inability to 
reach the highest good ? 10 These are matters regarding which 
orthodox theologians are not, and never have been, agreed ; 
and they are matters of the utmost moment. Divergences of 
opinion as to questions like these are of the most significant 
kind, and involve differences of view as to the whole problem 
of life, and even as to the nature of God's dealings with His 
creatures. If we were to restrict the orthodox position to 
those assertions in which its defenders are all agreed, it would 
mean little more than that, at some time or other, the destiny 
of the impenitent becomes fixed that, at some point in the 
history of the sinner, salvation ceases to be possible, that 
irremediable, unending loss is a fact of the moral universe. 

(c) But, of course, it would not be reasonable to attenuate 
the historical dogma to this extent. Very little would be left 
of any doctrine if it were reduced to those elements in it which 

1 Augustine, Civ. Dei, ixi. - Salmoml, etc. 

* Augustine, Aquinas, Pusey, etc. 

* Delitzsch, System of Biblical Psychology, 552-554 ; Martensen, Dogmatik, 
sec. 286. 

5 Edwards, Sermons, xi. 6 Salmond. 

7 Dorner, System of Christian Doctrine, iv. 416-428. 

8 Aquinas, Pars n. Quaest. Ixxxvii. Art. 5 ; Dahle, Life after Death, ]>. 4?5. 

9 Edwards, Sermons ; Martenaeu, Bib. Psych, p. 162. 
10 Leibnitz. 


no one of its exponents has denied. We must find the mean 
ing of any traditional teaching in its general characteristics, 
as taught by the great majority of its professors throughout 
the ages. And, if we interpret the belief in Everlasting Evil 
in this light, we find that it involves the assertions that destiny 
is unalterably fixed at death ; and that, therefore, those who 
pass hence impenitent will inherit unending perdition will 
continue always either in a state of sin or in the endurance of 
those penalties which sin entails according to the unalterable 
laws of God. 



1. Now, it must be admitted that this theory of human 
destiny does not show itself to the best advantage when it is 
regarded from the purely speculative point of view. We have 
seen the perplexities which characterise even the ablest 
endeavours to elaborate it in detail, and to present it to the 
mind in such a form as shall not imply logical contradictions 
or things that are morally incredible. But, even if we exclude 
from view the difficulties which are presented by any individual 
expression of it, the doctrine of Everlasting Evil remains, in 
its broad outlines, open to serious rational criticism. In so far 
as it asserts that the history of the moral universe is to end in 
a hopeless discord, it is not welcome to philosophy, which 
always seeks after unity of thought and does not rest content 
with unreconciled contradictions. A difficulty also emerges 
as soon as we assert that the negation of good is everlasting. 
No great Christian thinker, except perhaps Kant, has ever 
maintained that evil, as an object of thought, has any positive 
reality. Augustine and the Schoolmen teach, as clearly as 
later philosophers, that only a relative existence can be 
attributed to it. And it does seem almost incredible that a 
thing which is the mere negation of reality can be possessed of 
unending life. 

2. (a) But, even if we set aside these objections, which may 


be said, perhaps, to rest on debatable grounds, there remain 
other difficulties of a less metaphysical kind. In the first 
place, if we assert that some men will certainly continue to sin 
for ever, we imply that there conies a point in their moral 
history at which repentance and salvation cease to be possible. 
But, if we are asked what it is that brings about this state of 
incurable bondage to evil, we must confess to some perplexity. 
Some writers maintain that God at last withdraws His grace 
from the sinner, and so removes from him all possibility of 
redemption. And no doubt this is a logical enough position. 
But, surely, it is evident that whatever a man may do after he 
has been excluded from the ministry of grace cannot be called 
sin, since it does not involve guilt. Without the divine help 
we are incapable of good ; but we are also incapable of evil, 
inasmuch as the moral choice is no longer within our reach. 
The man to whom grace is denied is cut off from the spiritual 
economy ; the evil which he commits is no longer the act of a 
free, responsible creature. Hence, it is unreasonable to say 
that he continues in sin. All that remains to him is a state of 
penalty a prison of darkness and death, from which he is 
denied either the power or the desire to escape. Other 
theologians, again, say that God never withdraws His grace 
from any man, but that the impenitent evil-doer becomes at 
last too hardened to accept it. The vital air continues to be 
around him ; but he cannot breathe it. The bread of life 
remains within his reach ; but he has lost the ability to take 
it. This view, however, does not differ in effect from the other. 
If the soul loses the power of receiving divine help, or of 
repenting its iniquities, it becomes also incapable of sin. Sin 
consists in the rejection of grace and the refusal to repent ; 
and as soon as such rejection and refusal become impossible as 
an act of the free will, moral history is at an end. Existence 
goes on henceforth on a plane that is beneath the level of right 
and wrong; there remains no longer the privilege of being 
able to offend ; all that endures is retribution. 

Thus it does appear that whether we say that God with 
draws His grace from the lost, or that they become unable to 
accept it, matters little. ,In either case they cease to be 


sinners, inasmuch as they cease to be responsible for their acts. 
They enter the region of moral nonentity ; they become as 
demoniacs that gibber among the tombs. 

(&) But, in the second place, the doctrine that evil is ever 
lasting may mean, not that sin will be unending, but that 
penalty will never cease. This is, indeed, the ancient and 
classical form of the doctrine ; and it is more defensible on 
general grounds than the other view. It may even be so 
stated as not to exclude the hope of a final reconcilation of all 
things. But, considered as a phase of the dogma under dis 
cussion, the idea of everlasting penalty means something 
positive either physical torment, or mental anguish, or the 
state of utter moral ruin. And in all of these senses it is open 
to criticism. The idea of endless bodily suffering has been 
sufficiently considered in an earlier chapter. The notion of 
perpetual agony of mind is subject to the fatal objection that 
mental suffering, such as remorse and regret, is a sign of 
spiritual life, and must therefore disappear from the experience 
of the lost as they go down into the depths of death and 
perdition. On the other hand, the belief that the soul may 
descend at last into a state of complete moral ruin, and so pass 
utterly out of the spiritual universe, does correspond to certain 
prophecies of the conscience, and is supported by some terrible 
facts of experience. It is an idea, also, that may easily be 
accepted by those who think that everything in the human 
personality has been developed out of lower forms of life. 
From their point of view it is quite conceivable that the 
individual may fall back into that non-moral state of existence 
from which the race has slowly ascended. It must be admitted, 
however, that evolutionists of this type will tend naturally to 
adopt the theory of Conditional Immortality. In any case, the 
thought of utter moral destruction cannot be accepted by those 
of us who hold that the soul is a spiritual substance, inde 
structible, the child of God. From our standpoint it is 
incredible that the human spirit can be divested of moral life, 
any more than of actual existence. To us it seems that 
freedom, the power to choose the right, belongs to the very 
idea of the soul and cannot be taken away. Just as it is the 


nature of matter to be subject to necessity, so it is the nature 
of spirit to be free. There exists no power that is able to cut 
it off from its supernatural source. There are no chains that 
can bind it, if it desires to return to the heavenly city. There 
is no state of exile in which it can be robbed of the power to 
come to itself and to say, " I will arise and go to my Father." 

3. These, then, are some of the difficulties which beset the 
theory of everlasting evil from the psychological standpoint. 
But there are others that connect themselves with the doctrine 
of God. For instance, the belief that evil will endure for ever 
cannot be deduced from a consideration of the character of 
God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ. No one can reason 
directly from the divine attributes to the conclusion that a 
thing which is the denial of all these attributes will never have 
an end. Once the doctrine of perpetual sin and misery has 
come into existence and been formulated, it may be possible to 
reconcile it with the Christian conception of divine goodness ; 
but no one will assert that it can be deduced as a necessary 
conclusion from the idea of that goodness, or that it presents 
a view which suggests itself to the reason as that which is in 
perfect accord with our highest thoughts concerning the Most 

4. This theory is, further, open to the criticism that it does 
not even tend in the least to solve any problem or to lighten 
any difficulty. Of course, a belief may be true and yet may 
cause perplexity, since there are many things which are painful 
and yet are facts. And so we cannot argue that because belief 
in everlasting punishment is a burden to us it is therefore 
false. But we are regarding matters at present from the 
speculative point of view ; and the object of a speculation is to 
explain things that seem inexplicable, and to rationalise things 
that seem unreasonable. And so it is fair to say that the 
theory in question has this weakness, that it fails to explain or 
to rationalise. Indeed, it perplexes and puzzles faith in any 
attempt to solve the riddle of the universe. The pain and 
sorrow of the world, the manifold anguish of life, is a sore 
burden to every believer in God ; and that burden is certainly 
increased by the thought that the suffering and the sorrow are 


to endure for ever. The origin and existence of sin, also, with 
all the loss and ruin it has brought, presents a mystery that 
Christian Theism has never been able to penetrate. How 
greatly is that mystery deepened by the conviction that moral 
evil is never to end. Surely it cannot be denied that any 
theory which teaches the everlasting existence of sin and its 
dreadful attendants is no contribution to a rational view of the 
universe enlightens no darkness, comforts no sorrow, eases 
no doubt. On the contrary, it presents the sorest puzzle to 
Christian thought, and clouds the joy of immortality. We 
cannot conceal from ourselves that it has rendered the belief 
in a life to come . of no value to many not ignoble spirits, and 
changed it in their eyes from a sure and certain hope to the 
master of all the fears. 

Such, then, are some of the objections which may be taken 
to this theory of destiny that it asserts an everlasting discord, 
that it affirms the unending existence of something which is 
the negation of reality, that it presents grave psychological 
difficulties, that it cannot be directly deduced from the 
Christian doctrine of God, and that, if it be offered as a solution 
of the puzzle of the world, it fails, inasmuch as, so far from 
lightening the problem, it increases very greatly its perplexities. 



1. All this may be admitted; but it remains true that 
this ancient doctrine in its various forms stands for certain 
important elements in Christian faith. We do it a grave 
injustice if we judge it by merely speculative standards ; if we 
forget that it was not in the beginning a creation of philosophy, 
or a deliberate attempt to construct a rational theory as to the 
End of things. It was developed out of apocalypse and a 
certain interpretation of New Testament teaching, and it owes 
its strength to its moral and religious content. It was founded 
on authority, and it has stood in experience. It has been held 


with reverent sorrow by multitudes of devout and tender souls 
who, while they have felt its terror, have believed it true to 
facts. With a fine loyalty to truth, as they have seen it, they 
have faced the reality of things. Among the elements of this 
reality they have found the tragic nature of sin and its 
penalties, the possibility of making final choice of evil, a real 
peril in the moral life. They have measured the greatness of 
the danger that threatens the soul by the greatness of the 
sacrifice of Christ. Their attitude has been that of Butler 
when he says " Things are what they are : and the conse 
quences of them will be what they will be. Why then should 
we seek to deceive ourselves ? " As to the masses of believers, 
no doubt they have accepted the traditional doctrine as a thing 
that had been given them, without much thought or question ; 
but it is idle to suppose that it would have meant anything to 
them, had it not found an echo in the soul, had it not corre 
sponded to a prophecy of the conscience. The common mind 
is never troubled by speculative difficulties about a doctrine if 
it instinctively discerns a moral truth in it. No dogma ever 
means for men more than that element in it which serves the 
uses of the spiritual life ; and so, all the dreadful forms and 
pictures in which the thought of future punishment has clothed 
itself have never signified anything to the majority of people 
but the terror of the consequences of sin. These have shown 
themselves in the experience of mankind to be so fearful that 
men have often felt as if no prophecy about them could be so 
dark as to be incredible. Hamlet says that no evils of this 
present life are to be compared with " what we fear of death." 
And in so saying he reveals the secret of the popular belief. 
We know the horror and misery wrought by greed and lust 
and cruelty and pride in this world, and we look with dark 
forebodings to their issues in the life to come. If the conse 
quences of evil are thus and thus here, what shall they be 
hereafter ? 

2. Purpose of punishment. Most powerful perhaps among 
the convictions which underlie the orthodox doctrine is the 
belief that the penalty of sin is not merely remedial and 
redemptive, designed for the good of the sinner, but also, and 


indeed mainly, retributive that is to say, resulting from a 
moral necessity. To say that punishment is retributive is to 
assert that it follows on evil because it is just, because it is 
required by righteousness, because it vindicates moral law. 
It is inflicted, not that the sinner may be redeemed, but that 
the order he has broken may be established. It belongs to 
the nature of things, and falls upon the offender without 
immediate regard to his interests. Punishment may help a 
man, may save him, if he receives it in the right spirit, if it 
leads him to repentance. But this is his affair. Whatever 
he makes of it, he must suffer it. 

"Who sets his feet in law's firm track, 
The universe is at his back." 

And, conversely, he who sets himself in opposition to law has 
the universe for his enemy ; its august forces move against 
his soul. A man shall reap what he has sown, not because it 
is good for him, but because it cannot be otherwise. 

This view, that punishment is in its nature retributive, is 
rooted deeply in moral experience. That experience does, 
indeed, reveal to us many forms of penalty, physical and 
spiritual, which are immediately corrective in their effect, and 
fitted to arrest evil and to produce a swift repentance. But 
this is not the obvious character of the most powerful and 
awe-inspiring penalty which we see to follow upon sin 
namely, the hardening of the heart. There is a law by which 
every evil act weakens the moral nature, enfeebles the will, 
dulls the conscience. There is an ordinance which provides 
that every step downward shall make it harder to go upward 
shall render the path to the heights longer, arid take away 
some of the strength that is needed for the climb. There is a 
dreadful logic whereby evil deeds form into habit, and habit 
into character, and character into destiny. There is a stern 
decree that says, " From him that hath not shall be taken 
away even that which he hath." This is the most certainly 
punitive of all the moral laws of God ; and to say that it is for 
the good of the sinner is, surely, impossible. It cannot be to 
the advantage of the weak that they are weakened. It cannot 


be for the healing of the infirm that the dim eyes and the dull 
ears are progressively robbed of sight and hearing. It cannot 
be a remedial law that imposes a^i ever heavier burden as the 
back grows less able to bear it that renders the upward way 
longest and steepest for the most feeble feet. As well say 
that it is good for the wounded man that his blood should 
slowly ebb away, as that it is well for the sinner that his heart 
should be hardened, and that the chains wherewith he is bound 
should increase in weight week by week and year by year. So 
long as this law remains a fact in moral experience, it is im 
possible to deny that there is a retributive element in the 
justice of God, or to affirm that all His judgments are intended 
merely for the healing and education of men. 

This is certainly the view of penalty that underlies the 
orthodox doctrine of future destiny. Of course, we cannot say 
that the one involves the other. Indeed, the retributive theory 
of punishment is not hostile to the hope even of universal 
salvation. Penalty is not the only force that is in the hands 
of God, nor is it even the dominant power in the spiritual 
economy ; and repentance transmutes it at once from retribu 
tion into discipline. Even the law of moral degeneration may 
in the end, working together with other agencies, conduce to 
the blessing of men. But Christian optimism, unfortunately, 
has sometimes identified itself with the doctrine that all 
suffering here and hereafter has for its sole purpose the saving 
of the sinner. It has quite often depicted the universe as a 
kind of hospital for sick souls, and has argued that, since men 
are always punished that they may be saved, the penalties of 
the future life can have no other object than redemption. 
And the orthodox doctrine has been true to certain facts 
of experience when it has denied this. It has been right 
in saying that this is a view which really degrades humanity 
and does not square with the realities of life ; that penalty, in 
this world and in that which is to come, is meant to vindicate 
the moral order, and is inflicted whether it does good to the 
sinner or no; that the consequences of sin are not always 
redemptive in their effects here, and may not be so hereafter ; 
that punishment will work good in the future life, only if men 


come to accept it in submission and reverence of heart, and so 
supply the conditions under which alone it can, in any state 
of being, work the peaceable fruits of righteousness. 

3. The irreparable past Another great moral conviction 
which has enabled men to believe in Everlasting Evil is the sense 
that there is such a thing as the irreparable and the irrevocable 
irretrievable loss, unavailing regret. This is, indeed, the uni 
versal affirmation of mankind. It is expressed by the poets and 
sages of all races and times by Dante, Goethe, Milton, by 
Marcus Aurelius as by Thomas Carlyle, by Sophocles as by 
Shakespeare. It is the the essence of all tragedy. It is in the 
anguish of Oedipus, in the remorse of Othello, in the " O 
Absalom, my son, my son," of David. It is in the regret of 
Danton " The sins of my youth, how they injure the public 
good ! " This it is that lends such moral impressiveness to the 
drama of Faust; and to that most poignant scene in which 
Lady Macbeth, being asleep, keeps for ever trying to wash her 
hands of invisible stains " Here's the smell of the blood still : 
all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." 
We may hear it also in the saying of Jesus " Sleep on now, 
and take your rest " ; and in the wistful pathos of His lament 
" Oh that thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the 
things that belong unto thy peace : but now they are hid from 
thine eyes." l 

Now this is, certainly, only one aspect of moral truth, and 
it is transcended by the Christian gospel of grace ; but it is a 
side of things that cannot be ignored or denied, and it evidently 
harmonises readily with the idea of everlasting penalty. We 
recognise that if men find an element of irreparable loss in 
their present experience they are likely to find it also when, 
from the future state, they look back upon this earthly life. 
If we sometimes feel that things we have done or omitted to 
do must be a regret and a weakness to us till the end of our 
days, shall we not much more feel in eternity that our misuse 
of the years of our mortal life has meant for us an everlasting 
penalty ? Does a man, come to the end of Ijis pilgrimage, 
look back on things gone by and know that they can never be 

1 Cf. K. W. Robertson's Sermoii, The Irreparable, Past, 


repaired? And shall he not have a more bitter knowledge 
when he sees behind him a whole life misemployed ; when he 
remembers that all the varied trials and opportunities, 
blessings and sorrows, of earthly existence failed to teach him 
moral wisdom, and that even the last solemn hour of dissolution 
itself did not bring him to repentance ? The vision of human 
destiny does " take a sober colour from " a mind that is 
possessed by thoughts like these. The voice of the everlasting 
No is heard in these tones of memory and of prophecy. And 
nothing but the knowledge of the infinite resources of God can 
avail in the least to modify their austere and solemn meaning, 
or light the future with a living hope. 

4. Eternity of moral choice. There is yet another feature 
of moral experience which, while it cannot form the basis of 
dogma, does yet help to explain the willingness of the Chris 
tian mind to entertain the idea of unending evil. This is the 
sense that somehow the act of moral choice belongs to the realm 
of eternal things. Aquinas gives logical expression to this 
feeling when he argues that sin is a departure from the chief 
end of life and the immutable good ; is therefore a breach of 
the eternal order and, as such, is itself everlasting both in 
nature and in consequences. He expresses this thought 
memorably in the saying "He who has sinned in his own 
eternity will be punished in God's eternity." l No doubt this 
argument of Aquinas is open to the charge of forgetting that 
repentance repairs a breach in the eternal order, by a law 
which itself belongs to that order. If it were not so, no for 
giveness would be possible for any sin. Also, the conclusion 
that future punishment must be everlasting, because sin is an 
offence against the unchanging moral government of the world, 
is defensible only if we agree that no repentance is possible after 
death. But while the contention of the great Schoolman is 
not convincing as a formal statement, it does symbolise a con 
viction of the conscience indefinable, perhaps, but none the 
less real. We do feel as if in facing the great moral issues of 
life we were standing in a world which does not pass away. 

1 Pare. II. Quaest. Ixxxvii. Art. 3 : "Justuni tamen quod qui in sno eterno 
peccavit, contra Deum in eterno Dei punietor " (quoting Ambrose). 


We do have the sense that in confronting the decisions that 
test the soul we are looking, not on the things which are 
temporal, but on those which are eternal. There is something 
in men that responds to the appeal : 

"Choose well; your choice is 
Brief, and yet endless." 

These, then, are some of the great moral convictions which 
underlie the traditional doctrine of future destiny. They help 
to explain its wide acceptance among Christian people, and 
they have given it power in its appeal to the consciences of 
men. They represent the things which the teaching of the 
Church has emphasised, and the interests which it has guarded. 
They are considerations that must be kept in mind by those 
who are inclined to a very severe judgment of the old eschat- 
ology. Also, they stand for realities which no sound theory of 
the future state can ever neglect or ignore. 


We have thus seen, in the two chapters which have been 
devoted to the negative side of eschatological doctrine, 
how the belief in everlasting evil was developed by Christi 
anity out of elements that it received from Judaism, and which 
Judaism, in turn, had inherited from the thoughts of other 
races " long, long thoughts " that reach far back into other 
years. We have inferred that the Christian Church is not 
responsible for the dark and terrible forms which this doctrine 
has often taken forms which it received by tradition from the 
Fathers. We have noted also that the Church, as such, has 
never been very definite or extreme in its dogmatic statements 
on this subject ; that its thinkers and masters have not been 
agreed in their teaching about it ; that there was in the 
beginning, as there is now, a large body of Christian opinion 
hostile to the idea of unending sin and misery. We have 
therefore concluded that the claim of the dogma of Everlasting 
Evil to be the authoritative testimony of Christianity cannot 
be accepted in its fulness. But we have recognised, also, that 
this dogma witnesses to certain abiding facts of religious and 


moral experience. These facts, at least, explain its power and 
persistence, and go some way to justify it as an attempt to 
conserve certain important interests, to vindicate the testimony 
of conscience, and to enforce the urgency of the spiritual peril. 
The Church has always been concerned with practical ends 
rather than with general views of things. It has been a pro 
phet rather than a philosopher. Its care has been to guard 
the intuitions of faith and fruits of experience, more than to 
produce a rational scheme of the universe. It has been 
anxious about the masses of men the simple, the careless, the 
unspiritual. Its desire has been to guard these from utter 
most calamity, to bring them into the ways of peace, and 
finally to present them in the presence of God with exceeding 
joy. Hence it has been slow to teach or to entertain any 
thoughts about the future state which might even tend to 
weaken in men the sense of peril; or to take from the 
intensity of the moral appeal. Deep in its heart, as in the 
heart of its Master, has been the thought of the immeasurable 
danger that threatens the soul. The conviction that life has 
tragic issues and that the spiritual question is one that brooks 
no delay, is expressed in the prayers of the Church through 
out all the ages, in the intensity of her warnings, in the 
witness of her saints. And this is the conviction, profound 
and unchanging, that she has uttered, sometimes, no doubt, in 
crude and cruel ways, but always with faithful and tender 
purpose, in her doctrine of future destiny the eternal issues 
of life, and the solemn wages of sin. 




ANATOLE FRANCE remarks somewhere that the pretension to 
be without prejudice is itself a very great prejudice. And 
certainly very few theologians would even pretend impartiality 
in their attitude to the doctrine that the attainment of endless 
life is conditional on the possession of certain moral and 
spiritual qualities. This theory, somehow, has the faculty of 
creating, on the one hand, fervid partisans, and, on the other, 
very determined foes. One discerns in the writings of its 
advocates an amazing zeal and conviction, and in those of its 
opponents, often, a barely concealed intellectual contempt and 
aversion. Yet we must assume a virtue if we have it not: 
and at least try to give this doctrine careful and fair attention. 
It is a thing to be reckoned with. It is a formidable and a 
growing force. The strength of its position on New Testament 
grounds is considerable ; and it has behind it forces which 
prevail in many regions of thought. It is congenial to the 
scientific mind ; it appeals to persons of the intensely ethical 
type ; it is encouraged by the dominant philosophies of our 
day; and it attracts those who revolt from the dogma of 
Everlasting Evil, and yet are afraid of the ethical aspects of 
Universal ism. Also, Conditionalism is formidable in this 
respect, that it, more than any other eschatological speculation, 
influences the entire theology of those who adopt it, and 
would, if generally received, profoundly modify the whole 

Christian view of the world and of life, 



1. Ancient doctrine. The theory of Conditional Immortality 
has not, heretofore, been widely accepted at any time or 
among the adherents of any creed. The Greeks and Hebrews 
signified by their doctrine of Hades and of Sheol their 
inability to imagine the annihilation of the soul. The Hindu 
belief in an endless series of incarnations involves the denial 
of death. The Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana, even if we accept 
the view that Nirvana means the loss of personal existence, 
bears no resemblance to the notion that death is the wages of 
sin: the absorption of the finite in the infinite, so far from 
being the punishment of evil, is the ultimate prize of righteous 
ness. The ancient religions of Babylon and Persia were quite 
unfriendly to the thought that personality could be destroyed. 
In the Norse mythology we do find a belief that the universe 
will be utterly consumed by fire, with all creatures that 
inhabit it, only one pair remaining to be the founders of a new 
race on a new earth ; but this tradition does not belong to a 
doctrine of immortality. The records of the Egyptian religion, 
also, contain suggestions that the punishment of sin may be 
the destruction of individual self-consciousness, though not of 
the spiritual substance ; but there is no proof that this was 
a popular opinion. So that, altogether, it appears that every 
great faith has inspired the conviction that the soul is in its 
nature indestructible. Conditional Immortality has not been 
in the past history of religion a doctrine that has won the 
allegiance of large masses of mankind. 

Yet it cannot be denied that this theory of human destiny 
has kept appearing from time to time in the writings of the 
thoughtful. Some of the old pagan philosophers who believed 
that physical death was the end of all things, for ordinary 
men, yet indicated sometimes a hope that the virtuous and the 
wise might continue to exist beyond the grave. The Stoics, 
while they affirmed that all beings must ultimately suffer 
dissolution, did not exclude the possibility that the souls of 
the good might maintain an individual existence for, at least, 
some time after the destruction of the body. The notion that 
the wicked might suffer annihilation was, as we have seen, 
ontertained by Jewish thinkers before and after the time of 


Christ. It has been taught by many Kabbis throughout 
succeeding ages. Also, it was involved in the general trend of 
thought of the greatest of Jewish philosophers, Philo Judaeus. 
2. The Christian Fathers. (a) We have already discussed 
the Philonic type of teaching as it appears in the New 
Testament ; but it is necessary to illustrate the important 
influence which it exerted over certain thinkers of the post- 
Apostolic Church. It must always be a matter of debate to 
what extent the writings of Philo were studied by any New 
Testament writer, but there can be little doubt that most of 
the Greek Apologists were directly influenced by that great 
master. These Christian writers accepted the apocalyptic 
doctrines which were prevalent in their time, and Justin 
argues distinctly in favour of everlasting punishment. " The 
wicked," he says, " undergo everlasting punishment ; and not 
only, as Plato said, for a period of a thousand years." 1 Also, 
he declares that each man "goes to eternal punishment or 
salvation," z and that " eternal punishment is laid up for the 
wicked." 3 Yet he and many others of his time do, as 
Harnack says, "argue against the conception of the natural 
immortality of the soul." 4 They regard Christ "as the 
bestower of incorruptibility, who thus has brought salvation to 
its goal " ; 6 and they maintain that " men are neither mortal nor 
immortal, but capable of either death or immortality." 6 Thus 
Tatian says concerning the soul " If it continue solitary " 
(that is, apart from the Logos) " it tends downwards towards 
matter and dies with the flesh ; but if it enters into union with 
the divine spirit it is no longer helpless, but ascends to the 
regions whither the spirit guides it." 7 To the same effect is 
Justin's statement " Souls are not then immortal ; . . . the 
souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the 
unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of 
judgment. Thus, some which have appeared worthy of God 
never die ; but others are punished so long as God wills them 

1 First Apology, c. 8. 2 Ibid. c. 12. 

3 Ibid. c. 18. * History of Dogma, vol. ii. p. 213 (note). 

5 Ibid. p. 223. 6 Ibid. p. 213. 

1 Ad Graecos, c. 13. 


to exist and be punished. . . . Souls both die and are 
punished." l Now this teaching is evidently Conditionalism, 
whether its authors knew it to be so or not. Dr. Plumptre is 
undoubtedly justified in saying that the language of Justin 
Martyr " tends towards the thought of a possible annihilation, 
and it has certainly been so understood by both Roman 
Catholic and Protestant writers." 2 

(6) In the writings of Irenaeus, also, there occurs a passage 
which is in complete harmony with the sayings just quoted 
from the Apologists. It contains, for instance, the following 
expressions: "Things which proceed from God" (like the 
soul) " endure and extend their existence through a long series 
of ages." " The soul herself is not life, but partakes in that 
life which is bestowed on her by God." " The Father of all 
imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved" 
" He who has not recognised God . . . deprives himself of 
contimiance for ever and ever." " Those who in this life have 
shown themselves ungrateful . . . shall justly not receive of 
Him length of days for ever and ever." 3 Surely it is evident 
that these sayings clearly assert that the privilege of im 
mortality belongs only to the redeemed. One would not, 
indeed, affirm that either Irenaeus or the other writers whom 
we have mentioned had attained to one clear doctrine on this 
subject, since they all made statements of an opposing kind, 
and since their teaching as a whole is so uncertainly expressed 
that it is interpreted by modern scholars sometimes in one 
sense and sometimes in another. Indeed, their writings afford 
conclusive evidence that eschatological thought in their time 
had not reached the dogmatic stage of development. But it 
may be agreed that all these early writers do keep saying 
things which encourage eager theologians to claim them as 
apostles of the belief that there is no immortal life apart from 
faith in Christ. And it may be admitted, also, that these 
utterances of theirs belong to a very characteristic element in 
their thought. They certainly indicate that there existed in 

1 Tryitho, c. 5 ; cf. also Theophilus, To Autolycus, Book II. c. 27. 

2 Spirits in Prison, p. 314. 

3 Contra Haeres., Lib. II. c. 34. 3, 4. 


the early Church a type of reflection which denied the natural 
immortality of the soul, and tended to interpret the New 
Testament in the light of that denial ; and was thus the 
representative in those days of that attitude and temper of 
mind which has produced the modern doctrine of Conditional 

(c) But, indeed, this Conditionalist strain in early Christian 
thought attained to definite dogmatic expression in Arnobius, 
whose statement on the subject exhibits many of the 
characteristics of later constructions. Arnobius, a convert 
from paganism, wrote at the beginning of the fourth century, 
and probably suffered martyrdom early in that period. He is 
a writer of force and eloquence and considerable speculative 
ability. But he did not live long enough to mature his con 
ception of Christian belief. In his reaction against the Greek 
idea of the eternity and divine nature of the soul he goes to 
the opposite extreme, and seems to delight to dwell on every 
fact that tends to discredit our humanity. Man is, in his 
view, only the highest of the animals ; and he is not the direct 
creation of God, but owes his being to some lower power, " far 
enough removed " from the deity. 1 He is not immortal by 
nature ; and, if left to himself, will utterly perish. The 
mortal character of the soul is, indeed, evident from the fact 
that man suffers pain. " For that which is liable and exposed 
to suffering is declared to be corruptible." " All suffering is a 
way leading to the grave." 2 An immortal creature cannot 
experience sorrow. Hence, if it were true that the soul is 
immortal, men would have nothing to fear from the threat of 
future punishment. " Imperishable spirits would remain safe 
and untouched by harm," even though they were " surrounded 
by all the flames of the raging streams of fire." 3 

But if the soul is thus not immortal, the question arises 
Does it perish with the body ? To this Arnobius replies that 
there is much to- be said both for and against an affirmative 
answer ; but that, for his part, he believes that " a cruel death " 
awaits the unbeliever beyond the grave, "not bringing sudden 

1 Adversus Gentes, Lib. II. c. 36. 

- Ibid. cc. 26, 27. 3 Ibid. c. 30. 


annihilation, but destroying by the bitterness of its long pro 
tracted punishment." l To those who ask how, on this theory, 
any souls can attain to everlasting life, Arnobius rejoins that 
what is impossible with man is possible with God, and that He 
will preserve the faithful in unending existence by a miracle 
of His grace. 2 

Such is, in brief outline, the teaching of Arnobius ; and it 
betrays some of the crudity of immature and hasty thought. 
But it, nevertheless, is marked by some of the qualities which 
have always appeared in Conditionalist doctrine austerity of 
spirit, a certain contempt for human nature, and a tendency to 
compromise with materialism. 

(d) It is evident, however, that this type of teaching had 
very little influence during the period of dogmatic construction. 
The endeavour to show that the opinions of Arnobius were 
shared by other important writers of that age is a task of 
great labour and small result. It means picking up here and 
there, from one teacher and another, occasional utterances 
and stray phrases ; gathering these together as a miner may 
collect a few grains of gold from tons of unproductive soil. 
And the fruit of all this searching is a handful of sayings of 
little value. The truth is that the doctrine of the indestructi 
bility of the soul proved itself congenial to the Christian mind, 
and very soon established itself in the theological schools. 
Before the sixth century the belief of Arnobius had ceased to 
be a real force. Augustine recognised in Universalism a living 
enemy, so powerful as to demand serious and respectful 
attention ; but he evidently reckoned Conditionalism to be 
among the things that were dead and gone. He had not a 
word to say of it in criticism or in reproach, or even in com 

1. Modern doctrine. The Eeformation era was, however, a 
great day of resurrection, a time when all manner of old 
speculations and heresies awoke to life again and stirred once 
more the hearts of men. And among the things that rose 
from the dead in that great Easter time was the doctrine of 
Conditional Immortality. The early Unitarians, even before 

1 Ado. QeiUes, Lib. II. cc. 57, 61, - Ibid. c. 35. 


the appearance of the Socini, held this theory; and it was 
clearly expounded in the Macovian Catechism, the earliest 
Socinian Confession. And the fact that it failed to retain its 
position in the Unitarian Church is a striking illustration of 
its characteristic inability to secure the allegiance of the 
common Christian mind. It is probable, however, that in 
every age since the Reformation it has found a certain number 
of adherents, and it is at present part of the formal creed of 
the Christadelphians and several other peculiar sects. One 
would certainly expect it to appear from time to time in 
Protestant theology. The solution it offers is so simple, so 
clear, so easily grasped, and the scriptural evidence in its 
favour is so obvious, that it is sure to commend itself to a 
certain type of mind wherever ecclesiastical authority is not 
strong enough to deny it a hearing. Hence we are not 
surprised to find expressions of approval in the writings of 
some Anglican teachers of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. It is certainly interesting and important to note 
that the theory of Conditional Immortality commended itself 
to a High Churchman like Jeremy Taylor, on the one hand, 
and to a Latitudinarian like Tillotson, on the other, as a view 
that was not inconsistent with the historic Christian faith. 

2. Types of modern theory. But it was not until the 
nineteenth century that this doctrine really attained to 
fulness of expression, or received the support of any consider 
able number of thinkers. During that century, however, it 
did achieve a position of considerable influence, and was ex 
pounded in several important works both of theology and of 
philosophy ; and it is probable that it continues in bur day to 
increase the number of its adherents. The prevailing opinion 
among advanced Lutheran theologians inclines to favour it. 
In England and America, also, as well as in France and in 
Switzerland, there is a decided drift in the same direction. 
Conditionalists are certainly justified in their claim that many 
things in the present aspect of religious thought encourage 
hopeful expectations for the future of their cause. 

Now, there are four different forms in which this type of 
eschatology presents itself to us. (1) There is a purely 


scientific, evolutionary theory, such as is elaborated by M. 
Armand Sabatier, and is at least suggested by Professor Henry 
Drummond. 1 (2) There is a philosophical form of this doctrine, 
of which the great exponent is Rothe. With him also may be 
mentioned Eitschl, and, some would add, Bergson. (3) There 
is a general tendency towards Conditioualism, which is ex 
pressed in varying degrees of definiteness by different writers, 
and is inspired by a variety of influences, scientific, ethical, 
literary, and religious. We may find this tendency illustrated 
by writers so unlike each other as Lotze, Matthew Arnold, and 
Father Tyrrell. (4) Lastly, there is a theological and systematic 
form of this speculation; represented by Edward White, 
Petavel, Menegoz, Haering, and many other professional 
divines, as well as by scholars and preachers like Huntingdon, 
Bushnell, Lyman Abbott, Beecher, Joseph Parker, R W. Dale, 
and ever so many besides. 

In making this division, of course, one does not claim 
absolute accuracy. It is evident that no strict line can be 
drawn between philosophy and theology. Also, some of the 
writers mentioned are both scientists and metaphysicians; 
some are at once theologians and preachers, and some are 
characterised by such varied accomplishment that it is difficult 
to describe their precise position. Still the division indicated 
does correspond, in a general way, to the facts of the case, and 
does mark real distinctions of thought and expression. We 
may, therefore, follow it in the present discussion. 


1. Naturalistic theory. (a) The most brilliant exposition 
of this theory from the scientific standpoint, with which I am 
acquainted, is M. Armand Sabatier's Essay sur V Immortalite. 
M. Sabatier deals with the subject from the position of one 
who accepts frankly the naturalistic theory of development. 
He is not, however, a materialist. In his view, "life and 
spirit were diffused in the cosmic germ." Each germ cellule 
of plasm has " a little soul " (la petite dme), a psychic element. 
1 See also McConnell, Evolution of Immortulitt/. 


It is, as one might say, both material and spiritual in nature. 
Every living thing is a bundle (faisceau), a group, of such 
elements ; and every personality is a highly developed, closely 
knit form of the living creature. " Personality is a bundle 
firmly knit together, a group intimately harmonised, a power 
ful and admirable concatenation ; but a bundle, a group, a 
complex being." Evolution tends to the creation of such 
personality ; and it has attained this end, so far, in the pro 
duction of the human kind. Each individual of our race has 
the power increasingly to personalise and strengthen himself, 
to bind together more and more closely the elements of his 
being. The brain is the instrument of this process. It is an 
" accumulator and organiser of spiritual force." It is not able 
to create spirit, " to make spirit out of that which has nothing 
in common with spirit ; but it is able to make spirit with 
spirit." That is to say, the will can so move and direct the 
bram as to make it the means of attaining more and more 
spiritual force and cohesion. This it does by acting along the 
line of evolution, willing along the appointed path of develop 
ment. This process means advance towards moral righteousness, 
virtue, the Good ; for the end of evolution is the production of 
the Good. " The moral being is called into existence by its 
own will." " It is the artisan of its own evolution and of its 
vitality." " It is free to form its own moral orientation, and 
employ or refuse the means at its hands to defend its psychical 
cohesion (faisceau)." 

Thus, on this somewhat curious theory, man makes himself 
into a spiritual being by working towards righteousness. In 
so doing he is advancing towards the appointed aim of evolu 
tion. He keeps storing up within himself more and more real 
life, keeps binding together always more closely the elements 
of his individuality, and so he at last attains to such a state of 
inward strength and unity that he is able to survive even the 
dissolution of the body, the disappearance of the brain which 
has been the organ of his development, and to live on beyond 
death. The man, on the other hand, who refuses the path of 
righteousness, and so sets his face against the current of 
evolution, moves backward toward the lower form out of which 


humanity has developed, loses psychic force and cohesion, 
becomes less and less closely knit, more and more " dissolute." 
And so when death conies he is unable to meet the shock of 
it, has no energy left to maintain his personality, and is dis 
solved again into the elements out of which he was made. 

(6) Now, this statement of Sabatier's expresses the only 
doctrine of Immortality which is possible for the evolutionist 
who does not admit that the spirit of man is a new element in 
the process of creation. According to the view he represents, 
all life is a development from some unknown substance which 
had in it from the beginning the " promise and potency " of 
all existing forms. The evolutionary process has moved 
upward from the inorganic to the organic, and through all 
lower vegetable and animal species to the human race, which 
is the crown of its achievement. In man is self-consciousness, 
volition, and creative mental energy. In him also is moral 
life that is to say, the form of thought and conduct winch 
experience has shown to conduce most to the well-being, 
strength, and progress of society and of the individual. The 
precepts and commandments of morality are " generalisations 
from experience " ; they express the accumulative practical 
wisdom of all the generations, the "ancestral voices" of the 
past. The witness of conscience itself is but the utterance in 
the individual of common, inherited belief as to the manner 
of living which best subserves the general good. Eeligion is 
the moral life " touched with emotion," rising to the height of 
enthusiasm, inspired by the vision of what the perfect man 
shall be, and stretching out its hands to that ideal in a 
passionate longing for attainment. 

(c) Now it is evident that if the hope of immortality is to 
be retained at all, on this view of things, it can only be in 
some such form as that which is stated by M. Sabatier. We 
must suppose that a spiritual element has been in the process 
from the beginning, and that it has been asserting itself more 
and more strongly, and determining the path of evolution, 
thus revealing the purpose of the Creator. Having produced 
the human race, it is now evolving a higher type of humanity 
in individual men so compacted, so well knit, so attuned to 


the purpose of God, that they art} able to survive even the 
shock of death and to retain personal identity in some loftier 
state of being. 

(d) But Sabatier's brilliant discussion shows the difficulties 
which beset this theory when it descends from the region of 
general principles and attempts definite logical statement. 
What are we to make of the idea that spirit existed in the 
beginning in many minute forms, " little souls," each attached 
to a corresponding particle of matter ? And how can we 
believe that these little souls, by a process of ever closer 
cohesion in separate groups, have produced conscious animal 
life, and then man, and finally a race of super-men endowed 
with immortality ? Are we able to credit the notion that these 
spiritual atoms, even if so closely allied as to form one intense 
personality, are able at death to maintain their cohesion, and 
to continue together after all the material elements with 
which they have always been associated, and the very brain 
itself which has been their centre of unity, have utterly dis 
appeared ? We may doubt also whether experience supports 
the idea that evil always tends towards the dissolution of 
personality. The truth seems to be that while some sins do 
tend to weaken the individuality of a man and blur its out 
lines, other and worse vices, like pride, cruelty, and selfishness, 
do not appear to have any such effect. Milton's Satan and 
Goethe's Mephistopheles are certainly not wanting in distinct 
and coherent vitality. One-notes also that the human species, 
on Sabatier's theory, has for one of its chief characteristics, 
not the actual possession of a certain quality, but the power of 
attaining it. Surely, if this be the case, mankind stands alone 
among all the species of creation. Every member of every 
other race and kind must conform itself to its type. Nothing 
but premature destruction can prevent a tadpole from becom 
ing a frog, or a chrysalis a moth, or a rosebud a rose. Hence, 
if a man is possessed, not of immortality, but of the power of 
attaining it through the exertions of individual men, he is 
solitary and unique among all the species of which we have 
ever heard. Finally, Sabatier's theory does not provide for a 
sufficient punishment of sin. We cannot tolerate the idea 


that a cruel oppressor, a .destroyer of innocent lives, a mean 
betrayer of sacred trust, can go on without repentance to the 
end, and suffer no penalty except the mere loss of continued 
life a loss of which he can never be aware. On this view of 
things a wicked man does as he will, and has his day, and at 
the end he sleeps. 

2. Christian evolutionary theory. (a) Those evolutionists 
who accept the Christian revelation and the authority of 
Scripture present the theory of Conditional Immortality in a 
form somewhat different from that expounded by Sabatier. 
They connect the attainment of everlasting life with the work 
of Jesus Christ. They teach that all who in every age have 
reached the higher manhood have been enabled to do so by 
the grace of God, which has never been denied to any one who 
has sought it according to the measure of his opportunity. 
This grace, this supernatural power to live ideally, appeared in 
its fulness in Jesus, by faith in whom it is possible to share it, 
and so to attain eternal life. It is difficult, however, to see 
how these thinkers can reconcile strict evolutionism with the 
belief in the moral perfection of our Lord, inasmuch as no 
rigid doctrine of development is able to admit that perfection 
can be attained by an individual while the species to which he 
belongs, and the environment in which he lives, remain in a 
lowly state of advancement. Such individual completeness of 
life could, in any case, appear only at the climax of the upward 
process ; whereas, Jesus lived at a point very far from the 
goal of human history. It seems clear, also, that any doctrine 
of a real incarnation of God in Christ is inconsistent with a 
rigorous theory of evolution ; since, if we admit such an inter 
vention of the supernatural as is involved in the Incarnation, 
we cannot refuse to accept the idea that God may have intro 
duced a new element into the world when humanity appeared 
therein. But, however this may be, Christian evolutionists do 
not differ, except in form, from writers like Sabatier, and their 
doctrine of immortality must be essentially his. Whether we 
say that men attain the higher life by faith in Christ or by 
their own moral endeavour matters very little. In either case 
their achievment is due to some peculiar virtue of their own, 


some quality which belongs to them as the elect of the race, 
the flower of the moral process. 

(6) Hence, the position of this entire school of thought is 
aristocratic and exclusive. It is true that a popular American 
exponent of Coiiditionalism urges that his doctrine harmonises 
with democratic principles, inasmuch as it leaves the individual 
free to live or to die as he may choose. 1 But this is a claim 
that is not to be taken seriously, since the right to commit 
suicide is not recognised by even the most democratic com 
munity. The evolutionary form of the Conditionalist theory 
regards the end and purpose of the world's history to be, not 
the creation of a redeemed humanity, but the production of a 
selected number of perfect individuals. All through the 
history of evolution the many have been sacrificed for the 
sake of the few ; nature has been careful of the type but care 
less of the individual ; and in the development of the human 
race also the Power that directs all things has intended the 
production of a type of super-man whose appearance should 
justify all the sacrifice it had cost. This way of looking at 
things is apparent, for instance, in Drummond's Natural Law 
in the Spiritual World. What Drummond's personal belief 
regarding ultimate destiny was I do not know ; but the whole 
argument of his book, the illustrations he uses and even 
definite assertions he makes, can mean nothing else than the 
doctrine of Conditional Immortality. His conclusions might 
almost be expressed in the words of Fourth Ezra " This 
world the most High has made for many, but the world to 
come for few." " Perish the multitude that has been born in 


1. Rothe. (a) The more purely philosophical form of this 
theory is represented, especially, by Eichard Eothe. Many, 
indeed, would say that Eitschl was the greatest speculative 
genius who ever held the doctrine of Conditional Immortality. 
This doctrine was, however, no essential part of Eitschl's system ; 

1 Palmer, Winning of Immortality, p. 220. 


it caimot be deduced from his general theory of things. Also, 
he does not assert it, but rather suggests that it indicates a 
possibility. He thinks that "the wrath of God means the 
resolve of God to annihilate " the finally impenitent ; and he 
believes this view to be in harmony with Scripture. But he 
does not assert that some human beings will certainly be 
destroyed. " Whether there are such persons, and who they 
are, lies within the scope neither of our practical judgment nor 
of our theoretical knowledge." And so, we find the great 
representative of this position not in Bitschl but in Rothe, 
whose philosophical system involves of necessity the idea that 
immortality is a thing to be attained. 1 

(6) Eothe begins by assuming two things the idea of God 
and the idea of Something that is His opposite. This Some 
thing, as an object of pure thought, is without positive exist 
ence, inasmuch as it is opposed to Him who is the alone real. 
But in the world-process it presents itself as matter, the non- 
spiritual; and the divine activity is always at work on this 
matter seeking to spiritualise it, to make it a part of its own 
life. Age after age this work goes on ; but in no one age is it 
perfectly successful, since there always remains at the close of 
it some matter unsubdued and unspiritualised. It does not 
appear that Rothe expected this struggle of the divine Spirit 
with its opposite ever to issue in complete victory and harmony. 
He, as Pfleiderer says, contemplated "an eternal process of 
stages of development succeeding each other in time." Matter 
was in his view " the primitive creature which is nothing in 
itself, without which God cannot begin to work, ivith which 
He cannot get His work completed." - 

(c) The theological bearing of all this is quite apparent. 
Rothe teaches that the creation of men arose out of the love 
of God, out of His desire to bring into being a spiritual 
creature worthy to hold communion with Himself. It was 
not possible, however, for God to create men in the beginning 
with a spiritual nature, since matter is that substance on 
which alone He works. Nevertheless He made men with the 

1 Dogmatik, iii. : Theologische Ethik, Stille Stundc. 

3 Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Religion, vol. ii. pp. 288, 289. 


power of becoming spiritual. In Kothe's language, " God can 
create the spiritual creature only indirectly, by creating a 
material creature which is specifically so organised that it is 
able to transubstantiate itself from materiality into spiritual 
ity, or in other words to spiritualise itself." 1 Man, therefore, 
in his present state is not conformed to his true nature. He 
is only in the making. It is his business to create himself ; 
the vocation of the human creature is to subdue his material 
nature to spiritual ends, and so to become the son of God. 

Moral evil emerged of necessity in the course of this 
development. It had to be ; it is an incident of man's struggle to 
attain his destiny. He must pass through it in his pilgrimage 
towards the highest. This does not imply that the individual 
man is not responsible for his sins or that his sense of guilt 
is a delusion. He is not accountable for the moral evil which 
exists in him of necessity as a member of the human race ; 
but he is accountable for every act and thought in which he 
yields obedience to that evil, in which he subordinates his 
higher nature to his lower. For he is free, and it is always 
within his power to choose the better part. And according 
to his choice is his fate. If he yields himself to the lower 
power he goes on towards destruction ; if to the higher, he 
ascends towards eternal life. Every time he submits to that 
in him which is without reality he takes a step towards 
nothingness. So long as he remains impenitent he keeps 
steadily transmuting his living substance into death. "The 
human individual may permanently remain in sin and so bring 
himself to annihilation. " 2 Although the race will be saved, 
the individual may be lost. Although the army -must come 
to victory, it will leave many dead behind it on its line of 

(d) Kothe, of course, does not teach that the possibilities 
of individual redemption are exhausted within this earthly 
life. He attaches the utmost importance to the idea of the 
Intermediate State; which is a condition of corporeal life 
wherein the warfare of the spiritual with the material nature 
goes on to an ultimate issue. The unrighteous who persist in 

1 Still Hours, p. 143. 2 Ibid. p. 185. 


their evil become more and more material and, therefore, more 
and more sensible of pain and misery. To use again Rothe's 
words " The physical torments of hell will not be merely 
sensual, but neither will they be entirely unsensual, because 
the bodies of the lost did not achieve a pure and clean 
spirituality. That in them which approximated to spirit will 
be more and more resolved into matter, and they will thus 
become always more susceptible to material pain." 1 This 
suffering is their punishment ; and it is ended at the close of 
the age when they, having become, of their own free will, 
entirely material, simply and necessarily cease to exist. Their 
lives become part of the rubbish, the waste, the useless 
element in the great world-process of which they have formed 
a part. 

(e) Now it is evident that, in its general import, this 
construction of Rothe's resembles very closely that of Sabatier. 
The one is the work of a philosophic theologian, the other of 
a scientific evolutionist. The one is a dialectical system 
proceeding from certain rational assumptions, the other an 
argument based on a concrete view of things derived from the 
study of nature. But both arrive at the conclusion that man 
is a creature in the making; neither material nor spiritual, 
but capable of becoming one or the other ; neither mortal nor 
immortal, but possessing the power to destroy or to perpetu 
ate himself. Both theories also illustrate the difficulty of 
stating Conditionalism in such a way as to be at once definite 
and convincing. Rothe's system has always excited admiration 
by its brilliance, daring, and imaginative power, as well as by 
its moral austerity and its profound religious conviction. But 
it has never been taken seriously as a rational construction. 
Rothe begins by presenting himself with a dualistic foundation 
suited to the edifice he means to build ; he conceives matter as 
unreal, and yet as possessed of such aggressive force that it is 
able to destroy the work of God ; he asks us to think of the 
Creator as engaged continually at a task which He cannot 
complete. And these are all positions open to grave criticism. 
We naturally ask Whence did matter obtain the energy that 
1 Still Hours, p. 272. 


enables it to destroy the spiritual element in human nature, 
and even to defy the action of divine power ? And this is a 
question very difficult to answer. Rothe's conception of 
human nature is also full of perplexity. The spiritual part of 
a man must be of the divine substance ; since, by hypothesis, 
there exist only two original substances God, and that which 
is His opposite. It thus appears that, in being asked to 
contemplate the possibility of the soul being destroyed, we are 
invited to believe that something which is divine can be put 
to death by an alien power. Further, this theory ascribes all 
sin to the material nature of man ; whereas some sins are 
clearly spiritual. Also, it asserts an extreme doctrine of free 
will, and yet affirms the necessity of evil ; and it fails to show 
how, on its view, there can be any true freedom either in God 
or in man. It does not tell us what becomes of the waste 
product of humanity the spiritual element which has been 
subdued by the material ; nor does it explain where the 
substance is to come from for the creation of the resurrection 
body. Finally, it presents God as exposing His creatures to 
the risk of dreadful torment ending in death and this in 
order that He may create a being in whom He can take 
delight. Man's suffering and doom are thus an incident in 
the divine effort towards self-satisfaction. These are all grave 
difficulties; and they are illustrated by Rothe's doctrine of 
Christ. He quite evidently fails to find a necessary place for 
the Redeemer in his scheme "of things ; and he does not really 
affirm the sinlessness of Jesus, since he teaches that our Lord's 
earthly experience was one in which the spiritual achieved a 
gradual conquest over the material in His nature a conquest 
only completed in the supreme hour of His Ascension. 

Such are the defects in Rothe's theory which render it 
unacceptable as a rational and religious system. And similar 
problems are always found to arise whenever Conditionalism is 
wrought out with thoroughness and courage. That view of 
things is strong in its general imaginative and moral assertions ; 
but wanting the power of presenting a formal doctrine which 
can endure the test of a careful analysis. 



1. Lotze, etc. The third type of Conditionalism which 
falls to be considered is rather a matter of tendency and 
general standpoint than of definite eschatological statement. 
It is to be deduced from the view of things expressed by 
certain writers, from the principles of their thought, from 
occasional things which they say, and also from their silence 
regarding certain subjects. The greatest of the writers of 
whom this may be said is Lotze, whose writings contain 
passages which suggest the idea of a contingent immortality. 
In his view God is the only being who is in the proper sense a 
person. Men are only in the process of becoming persons; 
and the inference from this is that only those who have 
attained to a certain advanced degree of individual develop 
ment are likely to survive death. But Lotze, in this aspect of 
' his thought, stands for a great many religious teachers who, 
without perhaps sharing Lotze's philosophy, agree with him in 
approaching all questions, especially that of immortality, along 
the line of moral and religious experience. These are prone to 
dwell on the truth that the Christian idea of a life to come 
developed out of pious convictions. Jewish saints possessed 
with the joy of communion with God became unable to think 
of that joy as belonging to this life only. In like manner, 
early Christians living in fellowship with Christ could not 
doubt that this fellowship would be everlasting ; their experi 
ence of Christ was full of immortality ; they knew that He 
lived and that they should live also. Their hope rested on no 
rational grounds, or general ideas of justice and probability, 
but on their intuitions as religious men. Mere continued 
existence beyond the grave had no meaning for them except in 
so far as it might be filled with the glory of Christ. And this 
original mood of the Christian mind remains the true religious 
attitude in all generations. It is only in so far as we are 
pious and Christian people, possessed of a high spiritual and 
moral energy, that immortality can be desirable to us, or 
indeed possess any meaning for our minds. 

Matthew Arnold supports this view of things in his 


Literature and Dogma, 1 and he gives it full literary expression 
in his sonnet on Immortality : 

" No, no ! the energy of life may be 
Kept on after the grave, but not begun ; 
And he who flagg'd not in the earthly strife, 
From strength to strength advancing only he, 
His soul well-knit, and all his battles won, 
Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life." 

2. Tyrrell. It is natural that those who reason in this 
way should tend generally to depreciate all arguments in 
favour of immortality that are founded on universal human 
instincts, like the desire to be reunited to the beloved dead, or 
on the consideration that belief in a God of love and justice 
involves the conviction that He has something better in store 
for men than this uncertain, unfair, bewildered and broken 
life. Arguments like these are held to have little weight ; 
and the whole burden of proof is rested on the experience of 
the regenerate their interests and desires, and the conviction 
that such a life as theirs is surely indestructible. Thus 
Father Tyrrell in his last book, Christianity at the Cross Roads, 
says that the natural man as he grows old and weary feels 
that he wants no more of this life. " Its prolongation would 
be hell." z It is as the eternal life which is in a man asserts itself 
that " the thought of extinction becomes more intolerable and 
the faith in its perpetuity more imperative." 3 Life after death 
is " a continuation, expansion,- and revelation of the life of the 
spirit as lived even now by the righteous." 4 Tyrrell's whole 
discussion ignores the idea of a natural, universal immortality, 
for which he seems to hold that there can be no proof. The 
mere idea of endless existence belongs to a magical type of 
religious thought. Immortality is nothing else than the 
eternal life which is begun in the righteous here, unfolding 
itself hereafter in some condition of being, of which we can 
form no conception because it must be totally unlike anything 
that we have ever experienced or imagined. 

1 Literature and Dogma, pp. 222-224. 

2 Christianity at the Cross Roads, p. 133. 

8 Ibid. p. 133. 4 Ibid. p. 127. 


Now it seems manifest that this way of thinking is 
practically Conditionalism, since we cannot argue from a 
partial experience to an universal conclusion. It is significant 
that Tyrrell has nothing to say about the fate of the 
unregenerate, and that, while he dwells eloquently on the 
permanent value of all other apocalyptic forms, he has nothing 
to say about the Gehenna doctrine, which occupied so important 
a place in Jewish thought and has been so strongly emphasised 
in the Christian Church. This silence is convenient, but it 
is also natural and consistent. He, and all who share his 
general view, whether Catholic or Protestant, must regard 
the question of the immortality of the multitude as merely 
irritating and irrelevant. If the life to come be empty of 
significance except for the spiritual, it really follows that the 
rest of mankind had better perish utterly. If they live on, 
it must be in a kind of Sheol ; a dreary, empty state that has 
no purpose or meaning in the universe of God that can 
have no value for the Creator, and can only be a burden for 
the creature. 

3. Criticism. (a) One has great difficulty, however, in 
following those thinkers who thus found the whole argument 
for immortality on the experience of the righteous. It is, no 
doubt, perfectly true that the Christian belief in eternal life 
arose out of religious interests and emotions. But it is not 
the case that faith created this belief out of nothing that it 
worked upon no already existing elements of thought. Men 
possessed from early days the conviction that existence did 
not end at death, that something in a man survived physical 
dissolution ; and all that Jewish and Christian faith did was to 
give richness of content to that somewhat vague and negative 
idea. It inherited a belief in the future state ; and it filled it 
with colour and light and song. It made the shadowy desert- 
land to rejoice and blossom like the rose. But who shall say 
that if no belief in a life to come had existed, faith would 
have created it out of its own experience ? Who can affirm 
with confidence that if no foundation had been laid aforetime, 
religion would have been able to build its radiant City 
of God ? 


(6) It is also to be remembered that if faith did give 
intensity of meaning to the idea of immortality for the 
righteous, it also gave vividness to the thought of the future 
state as it concerned the unregenerate. It is not quite in 
accordance with historical fact to represent apocalypse, in 
Father Tyrrel's fashion, as concerning itself only with the 
notion that the world to come will be a development of the 
eternal life which is begun here in the experience of the 
saints. Apocalypse assumed belief in an universal survival of 
death, and it continued to assert that belief, and to inform it 
with wealth of meaning for all mankind. Whether or no the 
Jewish prophets believed in the final destruction of some men, 
they certainly taught that the evil life as well as the good 
entered into fulness of inheritance hereafter the one of 
misery, as the other of bliss. And no view of the future state 
is true to Jewish and early Christian belief which leaves out 
of sight this universal element in its prophecy, or seeks to 
evade the burden of thought by confining our vision to the 
future of the City of God. Also, it is really as one-sided to 
think of the world to come in this exclusive way as it would 
be to have no concern for anything in this present life except 
the interests of the good, the religious, and the wise. 
Browning satirises this view in the lines : 

"Dust and ashes, dead and done with, 
Venice spent what Venice earned. 
The soul doubtless is immortal 
Where a soul can be discerned. 
Yours, for instance ; you know physics, 
Something of geology, 
Mathematics are your pastime. 
Souls shall rise in their degree ; 
Butterflies may dread extinction 
You'll not die, it cannot be ! " 1 

(c) There is, indeed, some theological peril in any type of 
thought that denies the force of all general arguments for 
immortality, and stakes everything on the intuitions of faith. 
The great reason for believing in a life to come must ever be 
that it follows from belief in God, is an implicate of Theism. It 
1 A Toccata of Oaluppi's. 


will never be possible to maintain with success that this world 
was created and is governed by a perfectly wise and loving 
Being, who renders to every one his due and cares for every 
creature He has made, unless we can assert that there exists 
beyond the limit of this transitory life a state in which all 
wrong shall be righted, all inequalities done away, every 
promise redeemed, and every broken and frustrate life granted 
its fulfilment. If the problem of immortality be an ethical 
one, it is so in the widest possible sense. It is concerned with 
the claim which every man has, in virtue of his existence, on 
the Power who created him. The right to fulness of oppor 
tunity, to equality of privilege, to " answer and redress," belongs 
to every citizen of the kingdom of life, whether he be saint or 
whether he be sinner. And there are many not irreligious 
minds whose assurance of a life to come is founded less on the 
thought of the heroes and the righteous than on a compassionate 
understanding of the great masses of common men especially 
the disappointed and the disinherited, the weary and the heavy 
laden. Hopes unrealised, dreams and visions unfulfilled, 
thoughts that are eternal, love that is " ever lord of death "- 
these are the possessions of all men, and these are the " intima 
tions of Immortality." 


1. Edward White, etc. (a) We now pass to the considera 
tion of the dogmatic, theological form of this theory. The 
classical exposition of Conditionalism from the point of view 
of Evangelical orthodoxy is Edward White's Life in Christ. It 
is true that there are many other works more modern than 
this, and in some ways more attractive, which might be taken 
as representative. The writings of Dr. Petavel, for instance, 
contain every argument, weak or strong, that can be advanced 
in favour of this doctrine; and they are characterised by 
admirable clearness and force, combined with a joyous confi 
dence and assurance rare in these doubting times. But White's 
book, spite of its literal and antiquated methods of exegesis, 
remains on the whole the most massive defence of Conditional- 


ism, and has done more than any other work to secure for that 
theory respectful and general consideration. 

(&) White's position may be stated in few words : Men 
were created with the gift of immortality, but lost it through 
the Fall. The doom of the sons of Adam is to perish utterly, 
But Christ came to restore the lost inheritance. " The object 
of the incarnation was to immortalise mankind." 1 Those, 
therefore, who hear the voice of Christ and by faith enter into 
a true fellowship with Him, attain to the possession of a life 
that is indestructible, a blessed existence exalted above the 
power of death. Those, on the other hand, who refuse to 
receive the Son of God remain under the bondage of corruption, 
and in due time become as though they had never been. We 
are not to suppose, however, that the uuregenerate perish at 
the moment of physical dissolution. The usual arguments in 
favour of the belief in immortality are valid up to a certain 
point. They are unanswerable, "if they are taken for what 
they are worth, as simply probable evidence of survival or 
revival." 2 But they cannot be said to be evidence for " eternal 
survival." " The butterfly rises from the chrysalis, but the 
butterfly is not eternal." 3 In short, we can infer from the 
usual arguments that there must be for all men a life of fuller 
opportunity than this of redress, of fulfilment, of completed 
promise, of adequate punishment. But there is no reason to 
suppose that such future existence must of necessity be ever 
lasting. If we are able to say that we have the sure and 
certain hope of unending life, we can only say it by faith in 
the gospel of Jesus ; and that gospel contains no warrant for 
believing that perpetual existence is assured to any except 
those who believe in Christ. Bather does it expressly affirm 
that the doom of the impenitent is uttermost destruction. 
While, therefore, we may be sure that all men will survive 
death, we may also affirm that not all men will be everlasting, 
(c) But as existence does not end with physical death, 
neither does opportunity. Our hope for humanity is not 
limited to this life. Final extinction will be the fate of those 
only who are found in the end to have rejected all offers of 

1 Life in Christ, p. 225. - Ibid. p. 81. 3 Ibid. p. 82. 


242 THE woitLD TO COME 

salvatiou and to have become hopelessly fixed in evil. " After 
God has gathered out of the world's population by methods of 
grace, on earth or in Hades, all salvable persons, there will 
remain for the judgment of the last day those alone who will 
deserve some terrible positive infliction as the antecedent to 
destruction." l 

(d) Such is, in barest outline, the system expounded by 
White; and it represents, generally, the view of those who 
maintain Conditionalism on purely theological and New Testa 
ment grounds. Thus Dr. R W. Dale of Birmingham held, as 
his son tells us, that " as man had been created in Christ and 
redeemed by Him, he had no life save in Him, and it was not 
worthy either of the justice or the mercy of God to tolerate to 
all Eternity a dead universe, or a dead limb in a universe, 
which He had expressly redeemed from death." 2 

2. Strength of this theory. (a) Now, it is quite evident 
that this position is not wanting in elements of speculative 
and practical strength. It has, especially, two great merits. 
In the first place, it evades a dualistic view of the issue of 
things, denies the immortality of evil, and affirms a final state 
of perfect unity and peace. Its vision of the End is a City of 
God which embraces in its sovereignty all surviving things. 
All sin and pain, crying and tears, shall utterly pass away. 
Evil shall disappear into the abyss of nothingness, carrying 
with it all souls that have chosen to live its unreal life, and so 
to share its ultimate death. 

(b) In the second place, it combines with this assertion of a 
final peace and the victory of Christ an equally strong affirma 
tion of the peril that besets the moral life a real perdition, a 
fixed and inexorable doom. Thus it is able to attach a clear 
and definite meaning to the warnings of conscience and of 
revelation, and to press home upon the minds of men the 
solemnity of the moral choice and the immeasurable nature of 
the penalty that follows on the great refusal. 

(c) These two characteristics of Conditionalism suffice to 
explain its attractiveness for many minds. Men like Dale of 
Birmingham have certainly found in this theory a way of 

1 Life in Christ, p. 530. " Biography. 


escape from the burden of the orthodox belief, on the one 
hand, and from the dangers of Universalism, on the other. 
Nor can we deny that this doctrine does seem to otter a simple 
and direct way of solving a heavy problem ; enabling us to 
serve two masters to satisfy the reason in its demand that 
there shall be no ultimate discord in the universe, and the 
conscience in its stern prophecy as to the end of an evil life. 
Also, the imagination is unable to refuse its tribute to the 
austere power and beauty of the statement of Eothe, and of all 
teaching which depicts the march of evil towards destruction, 
and declares with fulness of purpose that " the world passeth 
away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God 
abideth for ever." 

3. Criticism. (a) But if Coiiditionalism thus presents 
attractive features when it is considered in broad outline, it 
exhibits grave difficulties when it is examined in detail. It is 
a mediating theory, seeking to act as a kind of Daysman 
between opposing views. It always endeavours to combine a 
materialistic with a spiritual view of things, a denial of im 
mortality with an affirmation of it, the assertion that good will 
triumph with the prophecy that evil will also be in part 
victorious. This is its weakness, that it is not a true recon 
ciliation or synthesis, but a compromise. The wit of man 
has never yet been able to endow any mere compromise with 
the attribute of enduring strength. 

(6) One cannot, however, agree with those who argue that 
the theological type of Conditionalism would be in a stronger 
position if it were to say that the life of the sinner ends with 
this present world. Those critics who take this view think 
that the idea of God raising men out of death, only that they 
may undergo punishment before destruction, suggests a vengeful 
exercise of Almighty power. Also, they hold it unreasonable 
to suppose that any creature that is strong enough to sur 
vive physical dissolution will succumb later to the forces of 
annihilation. Surely the tremendous shock of the separation 
of soul and body must make an end of any being who is not 
inherently immortal. If personality can survive the crisis of 
death, it may well be counted indestructible. 


It is to be remembered, however, that Conditionalists do 
not say that all who die impenitent are finally lost : they hope 
that many of them will be saved. Hence, they do not teach 
that God keeps men in life beyond the grave merely that they 
may suffer. He extends their existence that He may prolong 
their opportunity of salvation. To this, of course, it is objected 
that God foresees whether any man will finally be lost or no, 
and that, therefore, He must, on this theory, grant to some 
men a future existence which He knows will be an evil gift. 
But this is a criticism that may be urged against the doctrine 
of Eternal Evil as well as against that of Conditional Im 
mortality. The supreme mystery is that life should be 
given to any who shall suffer final perdition. And this 
perplexity is not greatly increased by the thought that the 
history of these reaches out into the future state. As to the 
contention that those who are able to survive dissolution must 
be immortal, that the man who defeats " the last enemy " is 
not likely to encounter any other foe able to bring him to 
naught this is an argument which assumes that we know 
what the experience of death really is, and what the extent of 
its power to shatter personality. But this is not an assump 
tion that can be made. For all we know, the hour of death 
may not be so great a crisis as it seems, and may not even 
tend to destroy individual self-consciousness. It may rather 
increase the vital forces of personality by setting them free 
from elements that hinder their action and limit their expres 
sion. Death may, indeed, be a necessary part of the complete 
experience of a moral being. One cannot, therefore, feel that 
Couditionalism weakens its position by asserting the doctrine 
of Future Probation, and teaching that there is a future life 
for all, though an endless life for some. By doing this, it is 
able to admit, in some degree, the force of the natural argu 
ments for immortality ; it conserves the interests of justice ; 
and it recognises the truth that the acceptance of Theism is 
possible for us only if we believe that somewhere, somehow, 
there shall be equality of privilege and fulness of opportunity 
for every soul of man. And it does all this without adding 
materially to the difficulty of uiiderslaudiiiy why the Heavenly 


Father has created any man, knowing that it had been well for 
him if he had never been born. This is a perplexity which 
can be solved only by denying the foreknowledge of God, 
or else by affirming that none will ultimately be lost. The 
problem is not more difficult from the standpoint of Condition- 
alism than from that of Orthodoxy. 

(c) The real weakness of Conditionalism lies in its two great 
denials. The first of these is its denial that the soul is inde 
structible. In this it rejects a belief which the Church has 
held ever since it began to give deliberate thought to the 
questions of faith a belief, also, which seems to belong to every 
spiritual philosophy. Spirit is the supreme thing in the 
universe, the ultimate reality since God is spirit. Hence it 
follows that if man possesses this quality of life he cannot be 
destroyed. Any power that could destroy spirit would be its 
master ; and we cannot admit the existence of such a force. 
Nothing can be the master of that which shares the nature of 
God. Also, spirit is the one living thing that cannot will its 
own death. It cannot do so, any more than love can 
extinguish love, or truth make an end of truth. The assertion 
that a spiritual being can come to nothing is thus a saying 
without significance. 

But apart altogether from such metaphysical objections, 
many rational perplexities beset us whenever we contemplate 
the idea of the soul's dissolution. If the human spirit does 
suffer extinction, it must be either by its own act or the act of 
God. If we adopt the first alternative, we have to ask our 
selves by what means the soul is to bring about its own 
destruction. What deadly poison, what instrument, is it to 
turn against itself ? No material weapon can destroy it. 
What spiritual agent is there that can be used ? Does God, 
as it were, place the pistol in the hand of the soul ? If so, He 
is accessory to its suicide, and is in effect the agent of its 

Suppose, again, that we accept the second alternative 
and say that God destroys the personality. In this case the 
soul must agree to its own extinction, or else it must suffer 
death against its will, But the latter idea is inconsistent with 


the Conditionalist assertion that the freedom of the will is 
sovereign and inviolate. And so we must suppose that some 
how men will come to desire their own annihilation. But it is 
evident that if any creatures do come into such a state of mind, 
it must be either because existence is in itself intolerable, 
which is the purest pessimism, or else because the Almighty 
does by the action of His law make life unendurable for His 
creatures. This is, however, an idea of extreme severity. It 
carries over into the next life the worst horrors of human 
history, since it pictures a pain and misery so intense that the 
afflicted soul cries out for merciful death. It is a picture 
drawn from the torture-chamber or the place of pitiful disease. 
No living thing desires death unless it be driven mad by pain 
or sorrow ; and so, if some do come in the future life to seek 
their own extinction, it must be because they shall have been 
brought to a state of insanity by sufferings beyond their power 
of endurance. 

A third alternative may, indeed, be suggested. It may be 

said that men will not desire death, but will simply choose to 

remain in that state of sin which involves death. But this 

view would present evil as the executioner of the spirit. The 

condemned man does not wish to die, but he elects in spite of 

warnings to remain in the hands of a power which possesses 

the ability and the determination to slay him ; and that power 

is sin. But it is evident that sin can be an executioner only 

if the law of God gives it the authority to kill. So that God 

is, after all, the ruler by whose ordinance death is brought 

about. He says to the sinner, " If you continue in sin you 

must die " ; and if he answer, " I do not wish to die, but I 

desire to continue in my present state," his will is overridden 

and he is put to death. What comes, on this view, of the 

sacred freedom of the will, or of the contention that God does 

not destroy any soul ? Conditionalists deal very severely with 

that extreme Universalism which teaches that all men will be 

constrained to salvation; but they never succeed in showing 

that, on their own theory, men will not be constrained to 


Some writers, as we have seen, evade the difficulties that 


beset the idea that spiritual beings can be destroyed, by 
asserting that men are not spiritual by nature, but become so 
at the moment of conversion. But this view renders the idea 
that all men survive death quite untenable, and certainly 
involves the denial that infants are immortal. If the unre- 
generate man belongs entirely to the natural order, there is 
evidently nothing in him that will be able to survive when he 
is withdrawn from that order. Further, the idea that the 
substance of a man's being is changed at conversion, that at a 
given point in his history he passes from the natural to the 
spiritual world, is a notion that belongs to the region of magic 
and fairy tale. It has no foundation in reason or ethics, but is 
created out of nothing to meet the necessities of a desperate 
cause. If spiritual life be only a high degree of moral attain 
ment, it can be achieved by the individual ; but it is impossible 
to show that such ethical accomplishment can effect an 
essential change in the nature of the personality, so as to trans 
late it from the realm of birth and death into the region of the 
incorruptible and everlasting. If, on the other hand, spiritual 
life be a metaphysical quality of being, it cannot be achieved ; 
it must be inherent in the substance of the soul. The cor 
ruptible cannot attain to incorruption, nor the natural to the 
transcendent, nor the animal to the likeness of the Divine. 
" Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." 

(d) The other great weakness of Conditionalism is that it 
implicitly denies the organic unity of the human race. That it 
does so is surely evident. No ingenuity of reasoning avails 
to show that the quality of immortality is, on this theory, an 
essential attribute of our common nature. Every essential 
property of any species is found in all its members. A quality 
which is the possession of some individuals only, of any given 
kind, or is capable of being developed by these, but is not the 
necessary characteristic of all the species, cannot be one of the 
distinguishing marks of that kind of creature. It does not 
belong to the idea of it, is an accident and not a property of its 
life. Hence it follows that an immortality which is not necessary 
and universal, but conditional and an attainment of individual 
jneii, cannot be called a human attribute, a part of the 


essential nature of our race. But the idea that such a great 
thing as immortality can be a merely contingent and 
accidental quality is surely out of the question. The posses 
sion of unending life by any number of individuals really 
constitutes them a different species. The gulf between that 
which perishes and that which is everlasting is greater than 
the space which separates any kind of creature from another. 
And so it is evident that Conditionalism really destroys the 
unity of the race and divides it into two distinct and separate 
species. If there exist, at any given time, some men who are 
already immortal, or destined to achieve an endless life, and 
others who are, and will remain, evanescent and mortal, these 
two classes are so distinct as to belong to different orders of 
being. Their unlikeness is of the substance of things. 

Now, it is unnecessary to show how far-reaching and 
destructive this conclusion is : how fatal it is to any rational 
psychology ; how it cuts away the foundation of ethics ; how it 
destroys the belief that Christ is the brother of every man, 
and that all souls are of equal value in the sight of God 
the Father. It is also repugnant to many generous human 
instincts ; it suggests a certain want of race-loyalty in those 
who accept it; and it has small support in the facts of 
experience. " If," says W. D. Howells, " you have anything in 
common with your fellow creatures, it is something that God 
gave you ; if you have anything that seems quite your own, it 
is from your own silly self and is a sort of perversion of what 
came to you from the Creator, who made you out of Himself 
and had nothing else to make you out of." This is a healthy 
and manly utterance, and has a bearing on the question before 
us. Men must rate very highly the value of human righteous 
ness and faith if they suppose that these things are able to 
constitute a distinct and transcendent race of beings. Whittier 
showed a better perception of reality when he expressed the 
hope that his good and ill would be alike unreckoned, and 
" both forgiven through His abounding grace." The difference 
between one man and another in respect of virtue is so small 
when compared with the ideal, and the faith and merit of the 
best men are so defective and so in need of being forgiven, 


that we cannot conceive how any moral superiority possessed 
by the saints can avail to secure for them the exclusive 
privilege of immortality. If, indeed, the infinitely precious 
qualities of courage and self-sacrifice were the peculiar 
possession of the regenerate, the question might bear a some 
what different aspect. But every one knows that this is as far 
as possible from being the case. 

"Now may the good God pardon all good men." 

(e) It is true, of course, that evangelical Conditionalism 
does not say that the power to live for ever is attained as a 
matter of merit, but rather affirms that it is the free gift of 
divine grace. " The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus 
Christ our Lord." But this feature of the theory, as it is 
stated by White and others, is really not of any importance. 
The grace of God is either offered to every man, or it is not. 
In the latter case it is not " a free gift," but is bestowed only 
on such as are fitted to receive it. It has, therefore, never 
been really within the reach of any man who may be found in 
the end to be without it. He was destined from the beginning 
to inherit death. If, on the other hand, " the bread which 
endureth unto everlasting life " is truly offered to all men, we 
have to ask what it is that causes some to grasp a blessing 
which others refuse ? Evidently it must be some moral and 
spiritual quality which they possess. The act by which a man 
casts himself on God in faith, and so is enabled to receive 
immortality, is an exercise of spiritual power, it is of the 
nature of virtue, it is a good deed. And so it is, after all, by 
an action of his own that a man comes to be immortal. 
Whether you say that he achieves everlasting existence by a 
long process of strenuous effort or by one decisive act of faith, 
matters very little. In either case it is to a spiritual activity 
of his own that he owes eternal life. 

It seems, therefore, that Conditionalism must always 
describe life without end as a prize gained by the individual 
soul through the exercise of virtue, whether of faith or of 
works. The immortals will be able to say in the end, either, 
" We fought a good fight, we won our battle, and so we live 


when our weaker brethren are dead " ; or else, " We were 
given the power to lay hold on eternal life. By divine mercy 
we had the wisdom and the energy to stretch out our hand 
for the offered gift, and so to attain that grace of God by 
which we are what we are." 


1. Conditionalism, then, does not seem to be without grave 
speculative defects. It bears the aspect of a compromise and 
an after-thought a theory devised to meet certain difficulties, 
rather than the spontaneous work of the religious genius. It 
affirms that a moral change can alter the metaphysical quality 
of the soul, or else that the spiritual substance can be destroyed. 
It denies the organic unity of the human race. It teaches 
that men will ultimately bring about their own destruction, 
thus implying that the right to commit suicide is recognised 
in the government of God, and that spirit can make an end of 
itself; or alternatively, it asserts that the Creator will slay 
His own creature, in spite of itself which is utterly incon 
sistent with the Conditionalist insistence on the freedom and 
sanctity of the will. And, finally, while it seems to secure the 
triumph of God, it really fails to do so, inasmuch as it says 
that evil will be so far successful as to bring about the 
destruction of many souls, and thus to undo the creative work 
of the Most High. 

2. These, then, are some of the objections which may be 
taken to Conditionalism as a reasoned systematic statement; 
and they have sufficent force to discredit somewhat the confident 
and even arrogant manner in which it is sometimes defended. 
But, however this may be, one recognises gladly the important 
elements of strength in its construction, and of practical 
value in its testimony. Its intense, though perhaps extreme, 
assertion of the moral aspect of religion is a bracing and 
wholesome corrective to certain tendencies of sentimental piety. 
It faces problems created by modern ways of thinking, 
especially by the scientific doctrine of development, and at 
least endeavours to present a solution. Also it seeks to 


combine acceptance of the stern facts of the moral order with 
a merciful view of the end of things. Above all, it is admir 
able as an attempt to express, in a kind of rational symbolism, 
abiding moral and religious truths. Christian doctrines of 
destiny are, as has been already said, not to be valued merely 
on speculative grounds, or counted unworthy simply because 
they fail to satisfy the logical understanding, but are to be 
tested also by the extent to which they represent real spiritual 
interests. Judged by this standard, Conditionalism is worthy 
of respect. The instincts and beliefs which inspire it are 
of unquestionable validity. Faith does affirm that existence 
apart from communion with God is not worthy to be called 
life. An intense devotion to Christ does create the conviction 
that without Him there is no true being ; and the experience 
of regeneration does often cause men to feel that they have 
entered into a higher state of life, and have inherited a world 
wherein all things have become new. Conscience does affirm 
that the wages of sin is death, and it is haunted by forebodings 
of illimitable disaster. There is abiding poetic truth in the 
thought that all things which oppose themselves to the divine 
purpose of love are stamped with mortality, empty and fleeting, 
ready to vanish away. Also, there can be no doubt that faith 
does predict the victory of goodness, the fulfilment of redemp 
tion, the final establishment, secure, unchallenged, unrivalled of 
the kingdom of God and Christ. These things are true ; and 
it is because this theory of destiny affirms them with force 
and decision, redeems them from the danger of being forgotten, 
and applies them with courage to the old and baffling problem 
of the final state of man, that it holds a place among the great 
forms of Christian eschatology, receives the respect of thought 
ful men, and even commends itself to many devout minds as 
the best solution of the great enigma. 




THE belief that evil will finally pass away through the recon 
ciliation of all souls to God has been regarded with something 
akin to hatred by many devout minds. This dislike has been 
due in part to the conviction that it is contrary to the teaching 
of Scripture and of the Church ; in some degree also to the 
idea that it exceeds the bounds of legitimate thought, and 
ventures into a dim and perilous region where the mind is left 
without the guidance of knowledge and experience : but mainly, 
no doubt, to a fear of its moral consequences, its practical 
effects on the conscience of mankind. And yet this doctrine 
of a limitless hope has many claims on the indulgence of the 
orthodox. If it errs, it is by excess of faith rather than of 
unbelief. It is possible only where there is a profound belief 
in immortality and in the omnipotence of love and righteous 
ness ; and it is at enmity with no great Christian assertion as 
to the nature of God, the Person of Christ, or the means of 
salvation. Also, no so-called heresy has received more power 
ful expression than this, or has had so many adherents 
illustrious alike for piety and learning. It may claim respect, 
too, because of the ability it has shown to endure from age to 
age, to assert itself with fresh energy after each period of 
defeat, and, on the whole, to increase rather than to diminish 
in the width and effect of its influence. 

This last aspect of the matter is one of great historical 
importance. And it does not admit of reasonable doubt. 
Universalism has defied all attempts to exclude it from the 
evangelical Churches, and has been able to secure for itself 



formal toleration in the great Anglican Communion. 1 More 
over, while it is true that this type of thought is at present 
out of favour in the theological schools, it certainly modifies 
general Protestant opinion, both lay and clerical. Indeed, an 
evangelical teacher of authority has recently said that " if at 
this moment a frank and confidential plebiscite of the English- 
speaking ministry were taken, the likelihood is that a consider 
able majority would adhere to Universalism." 2 Evidently, then, 
this is not a doctrine which can be ignored by any one who 
seeks to give an account of the forms of Christian Eschatology. 
Now the discussion of this subject opens up a very wide 
field of speculation and research. In the study of Christian 
optimism one encounters many attractive personalities, in 
whose company it were good to linger. Also, there is a 
temptation to wander into side paths of literature and philo 
sophy that are full of interest, but that carry us far from the 
line of direct advance. It will be necessary, therefore, to 
confine our attention to one or two of the main features of a 
rich and varied region. I propose (1) to show that Universal - 
ism belongs to a strain of optimistic thought which is a 
legitimate part of the Christian tradition; and to indicate 
some of the forms in which it has expressed itself in literature 
and theology; (2) to state its main dogmatic assertions; (3) 
to consider the objections that are urged against it, especially 
from the ethical standpoint.. 


1. Ancient Church. (a) The belief in universal salvation 
has been so closely associated with the name of Origen that 
the very mention of it reminds us of that marvellous genius 
who has been called "the greatest gift which the Father of 
Lights bestowed upon the Church during fourteen centuries." 3 

1 Decision of Privy Council (1863-1864), Feudal versus Williams. 
H. R. Mackintosh, Immortality and the Future, p. 197. 
3 Duff, Early Church, p. 302. 


It is not to be supposed, however, that Driven was the first to 
entertain the hope of a limitless redemption. The idea that 
he was the creator of the doctrine in question rests on the 
supposition that the Church in the beginning held a dogmatic 
belief in Everlasting Evil, and that all who have since differed 
from that belief have been protesters and heretics, of whom 
the earliest was Origen. But neither the New Testament 
evidence nor the witness of early Christian history supports 
this idea. The primitive conception of judgment and torment 
to come was a fiery mist in which were concealed the promise 
and potency of all the later doctrines of destiny. When this 
began to evolve dogmatic forms, it produced the Orthodoxy of 
Augustine, the Conditionalism of Arnobius, and the Universal- 
ism whose first great apostle was Origen. We have seen that 
there were, from the beginning, tendencies of thought towards 
both the first and the second of these beliefs ; and it is equally 
certain that there were forces at work in the speculation of 
the Church, from the time of St. Paul, which found their 
logical culmination in the teaching of Origeu. There is, for 
instance, at least the suggestion of Universalisin in Irenaeus. 
This writer affirms that Adam was saved, and his general 
doctrine is that the fortunes of the race correspond to those 
of the first man ; so that his assertion of Adam's salvation 
involves the inference that all men will ultimately share his 
blessedness. Indeed, there are sayings in the writings of 
Irenaeus which indicate that he was prepared to contemplate 
this conclusion. Thus he says that " the knot of Eve's dis 
obedience was loosened by the obedience of Mary." He further 
declares that God drove Adam out of Paradise " because He 
pitied him and did not desire that he should continue a sinner 
for ever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be 
immortal, and evil without end and without remedy. But He 
set a bound to his sin by interposing death ... so that man, 
ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to 
live to God." l This is teaching which shows that, while this 
writer was inclined, for the most part, towards Conditionalism, 
there was something in his theology which favoured another 
1 Contra Hacrcs,, Lib. III. c. zzii. 4, u. xxiii. 6. 


view. Heiice Hariiack says of him " It was ouly his 
moralistic train of thought that saved him from the conclusion 
that there is a restoration of all individual men." 1 

Again, we have seen that Tertullian uses expressions which 
suggest that some in his time believed that all men would be 
saved. We must also note a passage in the Second Book of 
the Sybilline Oracles which, although it is of uncertain date, is 
probably earlier than Origen " The omnipotent, incorruptible 
God . . . shall save mankind from the pernicious fire and 
immortal agonies. . . . For, having gathered them, safely 
secured from the unwearied flame, and appointed them to 
another place, He shall send them, for His people's sake, into 
another and an eternal life with the immortals on the Elysian 
plains." z 

There can be no doubt, also, that Clement of Alexandria 
asserted the doctrine of Future Probation, and that he followed 
the second part of the Book of Wisdom in teaching that all 
punishment is remedial in its purpose ; and these two affirma 
tions taken together, certainly lead to the idea of universal 
salvation, which is, indeed, at least suggested in some of 
Clement's rather cryptic sayings. So that the elements of 
Origen's system are contained in the writings of his master. 

There are thus distinct indications that the hope of 
universal salvation existed in the Church before the time of 
Origen. And, indeed, the form in which the latter expresses 
himself does not suggest that he was conscious of proclaiming 
a new and startling doctrine. He speaks in one passage of the 
moral effects which the denial of eternal punishment had 
wrought in some cases, 3 and it is plain that he could not have 
done this if Universalism had been a new thing. It is true 
that his system of thought was regarded with suspicion and 
dislike by many of his contemporaries; but there is no 
evidence that this antagonism was aroused entirely, or even 
chiefly, by his assertion that all men would be saved. Origen's 

1 History of Dogma, vol. ii. p. 275. 

2 Book ii. p. 212 (Paris edit.) ; cf. Ballou, Ancient History of Universalism, 
pp. 37, 38. 

3 Cf. Hageubach, vol. i. p. 223 (tf). 


miiid was so fertile in heresies that we cannot be sure which 
of these was the head and front of his offending. That it was 
not his eschatology is suggested by the fact that Gregory of 
Nyssa lived in the odour of orthodoxy, although he shared, and 
expressed clearly, Origen's hope that none would finally be 
lost. 1 

(&) But if we agree to describe Origen as " the father of 
Universalism," we must yet remember that his teaching does 
not correspond altogether to certain modem types of Univer- 
salist thought. These latter often affirm the victory of the 
divine purpose with such emphasis that they are accused of 
denying the reality of human freedom; and they are char 
acterised by an optimism which is sure that evil will utterly 
vanish away. Origen, on the contrary, pressed the doctrine of 
free will so far, sometimes, as to suggest that sin might go on 
appearing and reappearing for ever. 2 He taught, at least in 
his earlier works, that finite beings would always remain un 
stable in their moral condition, and that, as the lost would rise 
again from hell, so the redeemed might fall again from heaven. 
He thus foresaw a process of perpetual up-and-down through 
"life after life in unlimited series." Evidently this is very 
far from being a hopeful view. It offers a prospect of ever 
lasting unrest, presents to the vision no sight of an ultimate 
goal, and denies the hope of attaining a city that cannot be 
moved. It reduces the spiritual universe to chaos, and makes 
an end of the government of God. Also, it involves a kind of 
moral scepticism, inasmuch as it implies a lack of faith in the 
ability of goodness to maintain its victory and to hold the 
ground it has won. It supposes that the divine grace that has 
sufficed to bring a man into the Kingdom will not suffice to 
preserve him there, that the power which has raised him from 
death will not avail to keep him from falling. 

It is probable, indeed, that Origen felt the force of these 
objections, and that he outgrew this deplorable doctrine of the 
unstable balance. Neander points out that the references to 

1 Neander, vol. iv. p. 445. 

2 It is to be noted that the authority for this is mainly Jerome's testimony. 
Rufinus' version of the De Priticipiis does not contain this doctrine. 


it in his later works are few and indistinct. 1 It is to be noted, 
also, that even in the De Principiis he expresses the belief that 
the whole process of change will issue in the attainment by all 
moral beings of a final and perfect salvation. 2 We may assume 
that as he grew older he put less confidence in the sufficiency 
of logic, and also in the absoluteness of man's free will, and 
became content to affirm simply the ultimate restoration of all 
souls. This is rendered probable by the fact that Gregory of 
Nyssa, who followed Origen very closely in all his thinking, 
shows no sign of having even remarked his master's doctrine 
of an endless possibility of falling from grace. Probably he 
knew that this idea had been a mere outpost of Origen's 
speculation, having no vital place in his thought. 

(c) Further differences which separate Origen from some, 
at least, among modern teachers of universal salvation are 
these that he professed to hold his doctrine in submission to 
Church authority ; 3 that he disclaimed dogmatic assurance on 
the subject of destiny ; 4 and that he recognised that an 
indelible mark might be left by sin on the substance of the 
soul, 5 and thus affirmed the possibility of eternal loss. This 
latter point is worthy of note, in view of the charge of duplicity 
which is sometimes made against Origen. Sayings of his are 
quoted which declare that the truth of ultimate restoration 
should not be taught to the common people ; and it is inferred 
from these that he was willing- to affirm as a preacher the very 
doctrine which he denied as a theologian. One may question, 
however, the fairness of this charge. Origen speaks of " eternal 
punishment," not only in sermons but also in scientific works 
like the De Principiis ; 6 and this shows that he did not reject 
the truth contained in the idea of everlasting penalty. Like 
many later writers, including Gregory, Tauler, and William 
Law, he held his Universalist speculations to be consistent 
with assent to the doctrine of perdition. The conviction that 

1 Church History, vol. ii. pp. 404, 405. 

2 De Principiis, Lib. I. c. vi. 1, 2. 

* Ibid. Pref. 2. 4 Ibid. Lib. II. c. vi. 1. 

5 Of. Pusey, What is of Faith, etc., p. 130, note d. 
' De Principiis, Pref. 5. 



good would ultimately attain to perfect triumph was for him 
a necessary resting-place alike for thought and for faith, but it 
was not a part of the immediate message of the Church to a 
sinful world. So far as the eye could reach, as it were, the 
prospect of punishment extended. The end in redemption lay 
beyond that, and was discerned by the vision of the soul. The 
doctrine of Eternal Punishment conveyed a true practical 
impression to the minds of men who were not concerned with 
problems of thought. It bore to them the immediate truth 
that an imminent and unspeakable peril besets the soul of 

(d) Gregory of Nyssa (331-395), who carried on the tradition 
of Origen, is somewhat neglected by modern theologians ; and 
this is surprising, for his habit of thought is not alien to the 
modern mind. Whoever takes the trouble to study his works 
becomes acquainted with one who is worth the knowing; a 
reverent, humane, alive and devout spirit : a lover of nature, 
of mankind, and of God. Gregory's doctrine of Universal 
Salvation is stated with absolute clearness ; and it is remark 
able that, in his various expositions of it, he shows no sign of 
feeling himself to be on dangerous ground, or even to be in 
a controversial region of thought. It is evident that his 
Universalism is associated with his doctrine of the Incarnation ; 
but, apart from that, he seems to deduce it from his view of 
the character of God, the nature of evil, and the purpose of 
punishment. As to the first of these, his hope is founded on 
the goodness and wisdom of the Creator. " Being good, the 
Deity entertains pity for fallen man ; being wise, He is not 
ignorant of the means for his recovery. 1 Concerning the 
nature of evil, again, Gregory holds that sin has no positive 
reality, and therefore must disappear." " In any and every 
case evil must be removed out of existence, so that the 
absolutely non-existent should cease to be at all." * Finally, 
as to the purpose of penalty, Gregory affirms this to be " to get 
the good separated from the evil and to attract it into the 
communion of blessedness." 3 The pain of punishment occurs 

1 The Great Catechixm, c. 21 . 

3 De Anima, etc., p. 451 (English translation). 3 Ibid. 


in the process of redemption " when the divine force, for God's 
very love of man, drags that which belongs to Him from the 
ruins of the irrational and material." l As gold with its alloy 
is put into the furnace that all its impurity may be burned 
away, so the soul, with its sin, is committed to the purgatorial 
fire "until the spurious material alloy is consumed and 
annihilated." 2 In other passages Gregory likens punishment 
to the surgeon's knife and the cautery, which are painful in 
their action but blessed in their results. 3 And so, on all these 
grounds, he expects a time when every soul shall be brought 
into conformity with the divine image and shall wear the 
beauty of the Lord, when " a harmony of thanksgiving will 
arise from all creatures, as well from those who in the process 
of the purgation have suffered chastisement as from those who 
have needed no purgation at all." 4 

Such is a brief statement of Gregory's doctrine on this 
. subject, drawn from various parts of his writings. His teaching 
is singularly catholic in tone ; it is free from the speculative 
excesses of Origen ; and it contains almost all the elements 
found in later constructions. One may repeat that it is 
surprising to find that a man of his time taught the theory of 
universal restitution, and yet was so far from being counted 
a heretic that he was held in honour as a foremost defender of 
the faith, an orthodox and trusted bishop, " the arbiter and 
moderator of the Churches." 

2. Medieval Church. (a) It has been a matter of debate 
whether Origen's eschatology was condemned by the so-called 6 
Fifth General Council (553) ; but the truth seems to be that 
while the tenets of this teacher were anathematised by the 
local Synod held at Constantinople in 544, the later Council 
did not concern itself in particular with Origen's doctrine, 
though it formally ratified the proceedings of the Synod. 6 

1 De Anima, etc., p. 451 (English translation). " Hid, 

3 The Great Catechism, o. 26 (p. 496, English translation). 

4 Ibid. 

r> This Council was not truly Catholic. The Bishop of Rome was not 

B Cf. Gieseler, vol. ii. pp. 100-103. Also Ballou's Ancient History of 
Unlversalism, p. 281 (note). Also discussion between Pusey and Oxenham, 


However this may be, there can be no doubt that Universalism 
prevailed widely throughout the Church during the fifth 
century. Probably it attained to the height of its influence in 
that age ; which witnessed, on the other hand, the formulation 
of the orthodox doctrine and the triumph of that dreadful 
logic which led the Synod of Carthage to declare that 
everlasting torment was the fate of all infants who died 
without baptism. The extent to which Universalism prevailed 
at that time is evident from the direct testimony of Augustine, 
and from the tone in which he speaks of its defenders. But 
it is equally clear that after the sixth century the power of 
Christian optimism rapidly declined, and triumphant orthdoxy 
became able to prevent its obtaining definite utterance. It is 
true that the system of Maximus Confessor (seventh century) 
was certainly Universalist in its meaning, but he was evidently 
afraid to make this explicitly known. 1 Thereafter, for many 
ages, a hopeful view of destiny was never professed openly, 
except by men of unusual daring who generally held it along 
with a varied assortment of other heresies. The clearest expres 
sion given to it by any teacher of repute between the seventh 
century and the Keformation is to be found in the writings of 
John Scotus Erigena (ninth century), wherein we read : 

" I wonder on what principle you deliberate and hesitate, 
thinking that evil and the death of eternal torments can 
remain for ever in that humanity the whole of which the Word 
of God took into Himself and redeemed ; whereas true reason 
teaches that nothing contrary to the divine goodness and life 
and blessedness can be co-eternal with them. For the divine 
goodness will consume evil, eternal life will absorb death and 
misery." * 

This Erigena is a dazzling and momentous figure. 
Appearing as he did at a time when the mind of the Church 
seemed asleep, he was the prophet of the far-off modern world. 
On the one hand, he took up again the broken succession of 
mystical thinkers which, beginning with Plato, went on 

1 Neander, v. 242. 

2 De Division* Naturae, Lib. V. ; cf. Maurice, Moral and Metaphysical 
Philosophy, Book I. pp. 497-499. 


through Philo and the later Christian Alexandrians to Gregory 
of Nyssa and Dionysius. Begun again by Erigena, it stretched 
forward through the Schoolmen and the Friends of God to the 
great figures of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the 
Transcendental movement. On the other hand, Erigena re 
sumed that endeavour to rationalise theology which Origen and 
his school had begun, and which produced that elaborate and 
imposing structure of thought that is presented in the Summa 
of Thomas Aquinas. In short, the spacious mind of this 
man contained elements of strict logical reasoning, which were 
fulfilled in Scholasticism, and others, mystic and poetical, which 
developed themselves in Master Eckhart and in John Tauler. 

(6) These latter, Eckhart and Tauler and the Friends of 
God generally, never broke with the theology of the Church ; 
but the ecclesiastical mind had reason for the suspicion with 
which it regarded them. Eckhart's thought was as daring as 
Erigena's ; and his system contains elements which were 
developed later in the Hegelian dialectic. He asserted the 
unity of the soul with God so strongly as to be accused of 
Pantheism. He stated the doctrine of immortality sometimes 
in such a form as to indicate the final absorption of the finite 
being in the Infinite. And he affirmed the inability of good 
works to achieve salvation with such zeal as to suggest 
Antinomianism. Yet an Antinomian he was not, nor a 
Pantheist nor a Buddhist, but a good Churchman and devout 
believer ; possessed, however, of that type of mystical genius 
which is incapable of orthodoxy. His eschatology was 
certainly optimistic. No one who affirmed, as he did, that all 
things came from God and returned to God, that the soul was 
identical in substance with the Creator, and that sin was mere 
defect of life, could believe in the eternity of evil. But he 
brought his speculation into apparent conformity with tradition 
by teaching that eternal punishment meant being deprived of 
God. By this, however, he could only mean the loss of that 
perfect intellectual knowledge of God which, in his view, 
constituted the blessedness of the soul. 

(c) John Tauler, Eckhart's pupil, is one of the most 
attractive personalities in the history of the Church. His 


Sermons are among the finest fruits of spiritual genius. Their 
message does not seem to come from a far-off time nor from an 
alien Church, since it belongs to that religion of the spirit 
which is the true Catholicism, and is the same yesterday, to 
day, and for ever. Tatiler'a discourse ranges from the highest 
speculations to the simplest matters of Christian duty. He 
talks of the " school of the eternal light " and the things to be 
learned therein, of the joy of knowing God directly and seeing 
Him face to face, of Christ in His perfect blessedness and 
immeasurable sorrow, of the inability of works or sacraments 
to save the soul, of " the Kingdom of God which is God Him 
self," of forgiveness and mercy and brotherhood. On things 
like these he loves to dwell, and in all his teaching he combines 
the utmost clearness and simplicity of speech with a generous 
confidence that his hearers will be as interested as himself in 
the higher things of the spiritual life and the deeper problems 
of the Christian faith. The fact that the common people 
crowded to hear him suggests that the " dark ages " were not 
so very unenlightened after all. Or perhaps we may say that 
the very trouble and obscurity of men's lives in those days 
invested with a double grace and attractiveness the serene, 
benignant, and brave figure of this Friend of God. 

The doctrine of Eternal Punishment was taught by Tauler 
as sincerely as it was by Origen. But the knowledge that he 
shared the philosophy of Eckhart, as well as one or two direct 
statements of his, justifies those who reckon him among the 
believers in the final triumph of good. Thus he says 
somewhere " All beings exist through the same birth as the 
Son, and therefore shall they all come again to their original, 
that is, God the Father." Like all mystics, Tauler held the 
faith after a manner of his own, honestly but with a difference. 
In his teaching, as in his conduct, he was careless of consistency 
as commonly understood. Just as he sincerely professed 
profound submission to the Church authorities, and yet 
ministered to the plague-stricken people in defiance of the 
interdict of Rome, so in his doctrine he made assertions that 
were incapable of being logically harmonised. His mind 
dwelt in a region where things that seem at war with each 


other present the promise of reconciliation ; where necessity 
and freedom, justice and mercy, eternal loss and eternal 
salvation, are but different sides of one reality. 1 

(f?) It is very difficult to say whether the speculations of 
Eckhart and Tauler represented any considerable body of 
opinion in medieval times. There is no doubt that the popular 
mind of those days was in bondage unto fear, and was 
compassed about by apocalyptic terrors. But, on the other 
hand, the " ages of faith " were ages also of very intense 
unbelief; and a restless and daring type of thought had its 
home among the secret societies and heretical sects whose 
influence defied the rule of Holy Church. As we have seen, 
also, a very real freedom existed within the seeming prison 
of Scholasticism. It is noteworthy, too, that Aquinas, in his 
exposition of the orthodox doctrine of destiny, states most of 
the objections that are commonly taken to the dogma he 
defends. Of course, he may have produced these objections 
out of his own mind, or derived them from his study of ancient 
works ; but the tone of his argument does suggest that he was 
facing difficulties that were actual and living in his own day. 
Much of the real life of those times is hidden from our eyes as 
completely as if it belonged to a vanished world ; but there is 
reason enough for conjecture that the broad and tender 
humanity of St. Francis and the profound devotion of Thomas 
a Kempis had their intellectual counterpart in a strain of 
theological thought which was rich in hope and full of 

3. Modern Church. (a) We have had occasion to note in 
an earlier chapter that the Reformed Church was on the whole 
less liberal than the Roman in its official doctrine of destiny. 
But individual Protestant thinkers have, of course, diverged 
from the accepted eschatology far more decidedly than any of 
the medieval Doctors. In every age there have been found 
within the evangelical communions men who have represented 
the tradition of Christian optimism, and have been able to 
secure for it a measure of respect. These have not, indeed, 
always gone so far as to predict the salvation of all souls. 

1 Life and Hermans of Dr. John Tauler. 


Sometimes their optimism has been no more than a disturbing 
influence leading them to make doubtful and ambiguous state 
ments on the subject of destiny, as in the cases, for instance, 
of Butler, 1 Tillotson, 2 Jeremy Taylor, 3 and Coleridge. 4 An 
illustration of this uncertain state of mind is found in the 
ironical utterance of Sir Thomas Browne regarding Origen's 
doctrine " Which error I fell into upon a serious contempla 
tion of the great attribute of God, His mercy ; and did a little 
cherish it in myself, because I found therein no malice, and 
ready weight to sway me from the other extreme of despair, 
whereunto melancholy and contemplative natures are too 
easily disposed." 6 

Sometimes, also, this optimistic type of thought has been 
content with the general assertion that somehow all things 
work together for good. 

"All is for best, though we oft doubt 
What the omnipotent dispose 
Of perfect wisdom doth make out ; 
And ever best found in the close." 6 

(6) But, although Christian optimism has thus expressed 
itself with varying degrees of force, and has commonly 
refrained from any very definite attack upon the traditional 
doctrine of destiny, there can be no greater mistake than to 
suppose, as do some writers, that theological Universalism is a 
heresy of recent appearance in the Protestant Church. A 
glance at any bibliography of the subject is enough to dispel 
that delusion, since it shows us that this theory was supported 
in scores of books published before the eighteenth century. 7 
It had asserted itself even in Eeformation times ; and Petersen, 
in the seventeenth century, stated nearly every conceivable 
argument in its defence. With him, also, must be associated 

1 Analogy (Wheeler's ed. ), pp. 26, 27, 48. 

2 Eternity of Hell Torments. 

8 Christ's Advent to Judgment, etc. 

4 E.g., Notes on English Divines, i. 235 ; Table- Talk, p. 327. 

5 Rcligio Medici, sec. 7. 6 Samson Agoniates. 

7 Cf . Abbott's Bibliography, in Appendix to Alger's History of Doctrine of a 
Future Life. 


many English and German writers of those old days, whose 
names it were useless to mention. The truth is that the 
tradition which goes back to Origen, if not to the Apostle 
Paul, has never been wholly without its witnesses, either in 
literature or in theology, and has been increasing in intiuence 
since the Reformation time. Among the representatives of 
this tradition we may include all who have confessed the 
immortality of the soul, and have taught that evil is transitory, 
or at least have not affirmed the opposite. One would be 
inclined, for instance, to mantion in this connection all 
exponents of the " larger hope " such theologians as Dorner, 1 
who have taught that the period of opportunity extends into 
the future state, and have admitted that it may issue in the 
redemption of all. But, if we decide to confine our view to 
those who may be described as positively Universalist in 
statement, we must trace the line of this tradition from Origen, 
Gregory, Maximus, Erigena, Eckhart, and Tauler, to certain 
of the Reformation teachers like John Denck, 2 and on to 
Bengel, Schleierrnacher, Schelling, Neander, William Law, 
Erskine, Maurice, 3 Martineau, the Neo-Kantian thinkers of 
the more conservative school, and the New England Trans- 
cendentalists. These may all be called Christian optimists, 
though they have not all made the doctrine of universal 
salvation a prominent feature in their teaching. For the 
elaboration of this view of ultimate destiny, we must refer to 
the works of men who have devoted themselves to this end. 
And it must be admitted that the study of this latter class of 
writers does sometimes become a little wearisome. For the 
most part, they attempt to prove their case by a somewhat 
one-sided and uncritical treatment of the New Testament 
evidence ; they are often less than fair to the orthodox 
doctrine ; and they seldom define with any clearness the nature 
of that salvation which they expect all men to attain. Like 

1 System of Christian Doctrine, vol. iv. pp. 423-428. 

2 Denck has suffered great injustice at the hands of Lutheran historians. 
For a fair and scholarly account of him, see Beard's Hibbert Lectures (1883), 
pp. 204-212. 

3 Dogmatic Universalism is of the essence of Maurice's system, spite of his 
ambiguous sayings. 


most polemical writers, they would be more convincing if they 
were less confident ; they would gain much if they conceded a 
little; they provoke suspicion that the problem of destiny 
cannot be quite so simple as they represent it to be. 

(c) It is not necessary for the purposes of this discussion 
that we should proceed further with our illustration of 
Christian optimism in the general line of its development ; but 
it may be well to describe somewhat more fully the forms 
which this type of opinion assumed during the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries, the periods of its greatest power. In the 
eighteenth century the optimism of poets and philosophers 
was much more emphatic than that of religious thinkers. The 
former was extremely confident, while the latter was, as a rule, 
of a very different mood, differing, indeed, from orthodoxy only 
in this, that while it affirmed the doctrine of perdition in the 
fullest sense, it refused to assert that sin and pain would never 

The philosophical system of Shaftesbury, for instance, is 
both weighty and ingenious, and he has been described with 
justice as enforcing "a most religious as well as a most 
profound view of the world." 1 But his optimism was so 
pronounced that Pope believed himself to be expressing it 
fairly in the saying : 

" All discord, harmony not understood ; 
All partial evil, universal good." 

Very different, however, was the tone even of the most hopeful 
theologians of that age. The clergyman and poet Crabbe 
(1754-1832), for example, says, with reference to the idea of 
universal salvation : 

" The view is happy ; we may think it just. 
It may be true ; but who shall say it must ? " 

And this is a saying that cannot be accused of audacity, any 
more than of poetic beauty. It may be questioned whether 
John Foster (1770-1843) ought to be included among men of 
the eighteenth century ; but he is true to the spirit of that 
age, inasmuch as his Universalism does not go further than 

1 Pflciderer, Philosophy of Religion, vol. i. p. 120. 


the denial that evil is everlasting, and the hope that " some 
where in the endless futurity all God's erring creatures will be 
restored by Him to rectitude and happiness." l William Law 
is sometimes more dogmatic as, for instance, in the often- 
quoted passage which affirms that " every number of destroyed 
sinners must, through the all seeking, all redeeming love of 
God which never ceaseth, come at last to know that they had 
lost and have found again such a God as this." But this is 
a saying which does not fairly represent the tone of Law's 
teaching as a whole. His intention in all his works is 
evangelical; it is to convert and edify. Hence his private 
speculation regarding the End of things seldom finds expres 
sion. Even a careful student, reading his books for the sake 
of their spiritual splendours, may easily miss those sayings 
which indicate his departure from orthodoxy; while, on the 
other hand, his warnings of death and perdition are many and 
vivid. Also, the influence of Boehme, which dominates his 
later thought, obscures the expression of his own personal 
beliefs. Yet there can be no doubt that the limitless hope 
remained with Law until the end. For instance, he teaches in 
one of the dialogues on the Way to Divine Knowledge that the 
fall of man was due to the fact that Adam had no experience 
to guide him in the act of moral choice which he was compelled 
to make ; and the theological bearing of this doctrine is clear. 
Further, in the same book the question is put to him whether 
he teaches " that angels as well as men will be at last brought 
back to their first state." And his reply is that this is a 
matter on which we cannot obtain assurance. If the fallen 
angels have " nothing heavenly in them," they cannot be 
redeemed. But if they "are not essentially evil," they will 
" infallibly " be restored. " The boundless goodness of God 
will set no bounds to itself, but remove every misery from 
every creature that is capable of it." z It is plain that this 
teaching involves the conclusion that all men will be delivered. 
God will redeem all creatures except those who are incapable 
of it, and none are incapable of redemption who are not 
essentially and utterly evil. But, of course, men are not, in 

1 Letter to a Youmj Clergyman. '* Works, vol. ii. pp. 170-176. 


Law's view, wholly evil ; there is in every man " a heavenly 
angel that died in Paradise," and died only in the sense that it 
" is hid awhile." l And from this it follows that all men are 
capable of salvation, and therefore will be saved. The con 
dition that creates doubt in the case of devils does not exist 
in the case of men. Thus this greatest of English mystics 
illustrates the temper of Christian optimism in his time ; 
which accepted the doctrine of perdition, but discerned a light 
beyond it. 

(d) There was thus, in the eighteenth century, a marked 
difference between the optimism that was expressed in 
literature and philosophy and that type of it which appeared 
in Christian theology. The former was assured, and sometimes 
rather facile; the latter was reverent, profound, and a little 
afraid to declare itself, 2 at least within the orthodox com 
munions. Thus Dr. Thomas Burnett wrote an excellent 
defence of Universalism, but its publication was delayed till 
after his death. 3 In the nineteenth century matters were very 
different. During the Victorian Age optimism reached its 
fullest and richest development; and its literary and theo 
logical forms corresponded very closely to each other. It was 
full of conviction, and it uttered itself with courage ; but it 
was not facile, nor irreverent, nor wanting in perception of the 
pity and terror of things. The Idealist-Bomantic philosophy, 
which was the dominant intellectual force of that time, was 
hopeful enough ; but it was the enemy of all mere compromise 
and easy reconciliation. It insisted that no true harmony of 
thought could be reached except by asserting to the uttermost 
every element in its problems ; that a real synthesis could be 
attained only through the fullest recognition of every discord. 
Similarly, the optimistic theology of the age was confident in 
its teaching, and its assault on the older eschatology was 
sustained and resolute. But it had a deep conviction of sin ; 
it asserted retribution with the utmost force ; and it saw, often 
with distressing clearness, the difficulties that beset a sanguine 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 149. 

2 Cf., however, Bishop Newton, Final State and Condition of Men. 

3 De Statu Mortuorum. 


view of human destiny. The hopeful thinkers of that time 
saw the ultimate light through a world of doubt and shadows. 
Their enthusiasm of humanity was deeply touched with sad 
ness, and was redeemed from despondency only by the power 
of faith. It was Browning, the sturdiest optimist of his day, 
that declared : 

" There may be heaven ; there must be hell." 1 
And he praised Christianity because it 

"taught original sin, 
The corruption of man's heart." 2 

It is no wonder, then, that in an age when thought was of 
this temper there was found that sympathy with the Uni- 
versalist protest which undoubtedly prevailed among many of 
those who then ruled in the world of letters. Literature has 
generally been sensitive to the same forces which have moved 
religious thought, and has responded to the influence of 
theology either in the way of agreement or opposition. While 
theology has seldom been good literature, literature has quite 
often been good theology. But there has rarely existed so 
close a sympathy between these two powers as was witnessed 
during the days of Maurice and Tennyson, when the doctrine 
of the limitless hope found as clear expression in poetry as it 
did in sermons and in the works of controversial divines. So 
true is this, that we cannot better indicate the various types of 
modern religious optimism than by illustrating the truth that 
not only the general position of Universalism, but even its 
different forms, find expression in the literature of the 
Victorian Age. 

For instance, some Universalists, even as late as the 
beginning of last century, used to teach that there was no 
punishment of sin after death, that all iniquities received full 
retribution here, and that the world to come was one of 
immediate peace and blessedness for all. This doctrine was 
not without its value. It emphasised the often forgotten truth 
that evil is truly its own penalty, and always inflicts upon the 
sinner some present loss of life and joy. Also, it expressed 

1 Time's Revenyes. 2 Oold Hair. 


the hope, which we all entertain, that much of the fault and 
defilement that mar human character is due to inheritance and 
to physical defect, as well as to ignorance and false education, 
and may be expected to fall away like a garment at the touch 
of death. 

"Such harmony is in immortal souls. 
But while this muddy vesture of decay 
So grossly wraps us round we cannot hear it." 

But, while this old Universalist heresy did have something of 
truth in its heart, it yet, as a dogmatic assertion, was plainly 
out of harmony with reason and scripture, and most dangerous 
in its practical results. It therefore very soon disappeared 
from theology. Nevertheless, it embodied a belief which con 
tinues to be held by multitudes of people, as is plain to every 
one who has observed the way in which the dead are commonly 
spoken of as being at rest and peace, whatever their manner of 
life may have been. And this popular sentiment has never 
ceased to find utterance of various kinds in literature. We all 
know how often modern writers express the view that death 
pays all debts, and cleanses the soul of all its stains. 

" Past all dishonour, 
Death hath left on her 
Only the beautiful." 

There is, again, a type of Universalism which may be 
called evangelical, inasmuch as it is associated with belief in 
the incarnation and perfect sacrifice of Christ ; and has no hope 
for all men, or for any man, that does not rest upon the Cross. 
It may be said that even Schleiermacher a represents this form 
of thought, since his theology is centred in Christ, though he 
supports the doctrine of ultimate restoration on many specula 
tive and practical grounds. But more distinctly evangelical is 
the argument presented by Erskine in his Letters* and by 
Bishop Ewing, 3 and by George Macdonald, 4 whose sermons 

1 Christliche Glanbe, ii. 603; cf. also Mackintosh, Immortality and the, Fitture, 
pp. 199-201. 

2 Letters of Thomas Ersl-ine, pp. 422-435. 8 Memoin. 
* Unypolcen Sermonus, ct<-. 


contain a most winning expression of the limitless hope. This 
view is elaborated also in works like Jukes' Restitution of All 
Things, and Cox's Salvador Mundi. And the literary embodi 
ments of this type of belief have been, of course, many and 
striking. For illustration of this, one may refer especially to 
the writings of Whittier ; * and also of Elizabeth Barrett 
Browning, who declared that Christ suffered death, and cried 
upon the Cross, " I am forsaken," in order 

" That of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation ; 
That earth's worst frenzies, marring hope, should mar not hope's 
fruition." 2 

Once more, there is a form of optimism which, although 
it is not divorced from historical Christianity nor fails to 
emphasise the work of Christ, is yet mainly inspired by abstract 
principles of thought. Perhaps the chief representative of this 
school is Schelling, 3 but to it also belong many theologians of 
the Hegelian type, like Principal John Caird. 4 Probably, also, 
Maurice 5 and Stanley may be classed with this group. Tenny 
son presents their point of view in the famous passage in In 
Memoriam, which is the classical expression of the Larger 
Hope. Whoever considers with a fair mind sections 54 and 
55 of this poem is likely to recognise in them the best utter 
ance of Christian optimism, in its combination of faith in 
ultimate good with intense perception of the weight and force 
of those darker elements in thought and experience which 
seem to give that faith the lie. 

" Behold, we know not anything ; 

We only trust that good shall fall 
At last far off at last, to all, 
And every winter change to spring." 

But, finally, there is a form of Universalism which is not 
distinctively Christian except in the sense that it springs from the 

1 Cf. Tauler, Eternal Goodness, etc. 

2 Cowper's Grave. See also Drama of Exile, etc. 

3 tiammtliehe Werke,, iv. 62 (on 1 Cor. 15 24 ). 

4 Cf. sermon in Scotch Sermons. 

5 Theological Essays, pp. 443-478. 


Christian doctrine of God. The work of Christ is not an 
essential part of it. It does not bear the stamp of the Cross, 
but is simply a deduction from Theism. Martineau is a 
representative of this position ; and the later Unitarians 
commonly adhere to it. Its most passionate and forcible 
exponent is Theodore Parker ; l but perhaps the most complete 
expression of it is found in Frances Power Cobbe's essay, 
Doomed to be Saved. 2 This is the type of optimism that has 
received the most abundant utterance in literature. One 
example is afforded by Longfellow's lines : 

"It is Lucifer, 
The son of mystery. 
And since God suffers him to be, 
He also is God's minister, 
And labours for some good 
By us not understood." 3 

But the greatest apostle of this evangel is Robert Browning, 
who prophesies that 

"There shall never be one lost good. What was shall live as before. 
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound. 
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more ; 
On the earth the broken arcs ; in the heaven, a perfect round." 4 

I doubt, however, if even Browning expressed the optimist 
faith with such intensity of conviction as is found in Whit 
man's verse: 

"whatever else withheld, withhold not from us 
Belief in plan of Thee inclosed in time and space, 
Health, peace, salvation universal. 
Is it a dream? 

Nay, but the lack of it a dream, 
And, failing it, life's lore and wealth a dream, 
And all the world a dream."* 

(e) Let this suffice, then, for a general sketch of Christian 
optimism in its historical development. Enough has been 

1 Discourse on Matters pertaining to Religion. 

2 Hopes of Human Race. 3 Golds n Legend. 
4 AU Vogler. 5 Leaves of Grass. 


said to show that this type of religious opinion has a legitimate 
place in Christian theology, and to illustrate the impressive 
nature of its testimony. That testimony is reverent and 
humane ; it is founded on deep things in thought and in faith ; 
and it generally bears the mark of having been learned at a 
great cost. Meredith says somewhere that " it is impossible 
to think at all, and not to think hopefully " ; and certainly it 
is not possible to attain to an abiding hopefulness without 
thinking a good deal. An unreflective geniality is not 
optimism, any more than ill-temper is pessimism. The face 
of the world is not to be read at a glance ; the unthoughtf ul 
mind will see in it nothing but the reflection of its own pass 
ing moods. Extempore judgments as to the meaning of life 
are without the slightest value, and are as likely to be dark as 
bright. It is only among those who have thought long and 
carefully on the import and purpose of things that any 
assured conviction on the matter can be found. And it is 
certain that many of the most gifted and laborious thinkers 
have agreed with the testimony of Goethe " I have ever 
believed in the victory of good over evil." In any case, those 
optimists who have been distinctively Christian in their stand 
point have, as a rule, been men of learning and of thought, 
and their hope has not been easily reached or held. They 
have not been strangers to grief more than other men, nor 
unconvinced of sin, nor blind to the dreadful facts of life. 
And their belief, whether mistaken or no, was gained through 
an act of faith a hard and difficult act. It is not easy to 
believe in the supremacy of goodness in a universe that 
groaneth and travaileth together in pain. Nor is it a simple 
matter to discern that 

" love must be 
The meaning of the earth and sea." 

After all, the only really hopeful thing in the world is the 
vision of God and the vision of God is not easily achieved. 





1. Having thus completed the more general and liistorical 
part of this study, we must now go on to state and consider 
the chief dogmatic assertions which characterise the optimistic 
theory of destiny. In proceeding to this task, it will be 
necessary to keep in view the statement already made 
regarding the various forms which this doctrine has assumed. 
Also, I shall not seek to expound the position of any one 
thinker, but will endeavour rather to set down in order the 
main affirmations which are embodied in this system as a 

(a) Universalism assumes, in agreement with all Christian 
theology, that God is to be conceived as a " Person," in the 
sense that we can ascribe to Him thought, purpose, and will, 
and also love, justice, and truth. But it dwells with special 
emphasis on the belief that " God is love." It also postulates 
personal Immortality, not as a thing to be attained by faith 
and virtue, but as an original possession of the soul. 

(6) Again, it generally affirms that evil has only a negative 
existence, inasmuch as it is the opposite of good which alone 
has positive being. Universalism, however, is not to be 
identified with this view of the nature of evil, and is often 
content to affirm simply that goodness is stronger than its 
opposite, and, therefore, must in the end prevail. Martineau's 
position, for instance, is that evil is in its nature self-destructive. 
"All dominant evil is in the last resort doomed to natural 
suicide, and we have a divine guarantee against a perpetuity 
of corruption." l 

(c) Further, Universalism teaches that God has a purpose 
for His creatures, which is to deliver them from sin and 
sorrow, and bring them to a state of final blessedness. 

(d) Once more, this doctrine asserts the freedom of the 

1 Study of Kcli(/ion, vol. ii. p. 116 ; of. Studies of Christianity, pp. 187, 
197, 198. 


will; but it denies that this freedom is so absolute as to 
permit of eternal persistence in sin. It counts it incredible 
that God has bestowed on any creature the power to perpetuate 
evil, and work its own everlasting misery. Such an endow 
ment would not be a good gift ; and all the gifts of God are 

(e) Finally, it maintains that God's purpose of salvation 
will certainly be effective in the case of every soul ; and this, 
not through the action of any outward constraint, but by the 
persuasive ministries of grace. It holds that to deny this is 
to say that God will be defeated ; which is a contradiction in 
terms, since He is God simply because He cannot be overcome. 
A king who can be made to suffer a final disaster is evidently 
confronted by a power that is stronger than himself ; and such 
a king cannot be the supreme God. If it be urged that the 
everlasting continuance of some souls in sin does not involve 
the frustration of the divine will, inasmuch as His purpose 
does not include the salvation of all, Universalists reply that, 
if this be so, God cannot intend the total destruction of sin, 
which can only be achieved through the salvation of every 
sinner. But to say that God does not purpose to make an 
utter end of evil, is to assert that He is not wholly opposed to 
it, and is to deny that He is the God who is revealed in the 
Christian gospel and in the- conscience of mankind. It is 
evident that if He be indeed the implacable enemy of sin, He 
cannot desire anything less than its complete extinction ; and 
the New Testament undoubtedly declares that this is in fact 
His purpose. Moral experience also testifies to the same 
effect, since it finds the principle of goodness to be opposed to 
the principle of evil without reserve and to the uttermost. It 
is therefore plain that the loss of any soul, involving as it 
must the persistence of sin, would mean the defeat of the 
divine intention, which is to make an end of sin. And, seeing 
that we cannot entertain the idea of such a defeat, we must 
believe in the final redemption of every soul. 

Of course, there is an obvious objection to this conclusion. 
It is urged that if the permanence of sin would mean the defeat 
of God, so does its present existence. Moral disorder is a fact 


of the universe, although of that universe God is the Lord ; 
and even though it were always to remain a fact, His 
sovereignty would stand. He willed that evil should not 
begin, yet it appeared ; He wills that it should end, and yet it 
may endure. The one of these statements does not imply the 
frustration of Hie purpose any more than does the other. 
But the answer that is commonly given to this objection is 
that the existence of sin does not involve the defeat of God, 
since His purpose did not exclude its appearance in the world. 
He did not will that it should be, but He willed the conditions 
which made it possible. He permitted evil when He created 
a race of moral beings ; for the power of doing right involves 
the danger of doing wrong. And we cannot say that such 
permission of sin is inconsistent with the divine goodness and 
sovereignty unless we make the same assertion as to the 
creation of mankind ; since the one is a necessary part of the 
other. Also, it is unreasonable to say that the temporary 
continuance of sin is a frustration of the divine intention to 
make an end of it ; for it is evident that a disorder which has 
its root in the free will of man cannot be cured suddenly or by 
force, but only through the patient working of spiritual influ 
ence. Further, the argument, that whatever God permits now 
He may permit for ever, is one that cannot be applied to all 
the facts of life. Malignant disease and physical death are 
facts of the present order, but no theologian argues that they 
may endure eternally. We can reconcile the existence of 
these things with our conception of the Divine character only 
on the supposition that they will cease to be. And, in like 
manner, we are able to harmonise our faith in God's goodness 
with the existence of sin, only if we believe that it will finally 
pass away. 

Christian optimism thus finds its doctrine of the End to 
be justified from many points of view. When we think of the 
Divine character, we see that it is love ; and infinite love has 
an infinite power to save and to reconcile. When we consider 
the freedom of the human will, we see that it is limited by the 
nature of things, by the moral necessity that good should 
prove itself stronger than evil. When we reflect on the 


nature of evil, we see that it is transitory, carries in it the 
seeds of its own destruction, has no place among immortal 
things. Finally, when we think of God as haviny a purpose, 
we see that this purpose is universal, and must in the end 
prevail. 1 

2. Now, this is a line of argument to which we must in 
fairness attrihute considerable force. Nor does it represent 
the whole strength of the Universalist case. Apart altogether 
from its appeal to the character of God, this theory is able to 
draw a powerful argument from the pathos, inequality, heart 
breaking insufficiency of the human lot in this present life. 
And thus it can present the doctrine of immortality with full 
confidence as the solution of our most difficult problems. We 
cannot disguise from ourselves that the apologetic value of 
belief in a future state is very much weakened when it is 
combined with the assertion that death is the end of oppor 
tunity. If the fate of all men be fixed when they leave this 
world, it is vain to say that the next world will afford them 
redress for the many injustices they may have suffered in this 
mortal life. It is quite impossible to maintain that only the 
righteous have endured wrongs here, and that the unregenerate 
have no claim for redress hereafter. Yet, in the orthodox 
view, none but the saints will derive any benefit from exist 
ence beyond the grave. For the rest of humanity, that exist 
ence will be simply the crown of sorrow. Universalism, on 
the other hand, is able to affirm that all wrongs will be righted, 
all injuries redressed, all injustice done away, and is thus in a 
position to give full value to the faith in immortality, and to 
the thought that " only the infinite pity is sufficient for the 
infinite pathos of life." 

3. This doctrine is also able to give complete significance 

1 For expositions of Universalism other than those mentioned in thu 
chapter, see James Freeman Olarke, Orthodoxy : Its Truths and Errors ; 
Ballon, Ancic.nt History of I'niversalism ; Alger, History of Doctrine of a 
Future Life ; Neander, History nf Planting of Cltristianity, vol. ii. ; Farrar, 
Eternal Hope, and Mercy and Judgment ; Winchester, Dialogues, etc. ; 
Stopford Brooke, Sermons ; John Hamilton Thorn, Sermons. Also Latest 
Wwd of Universalism, Universalist Bool: of Reference and other publications 
of the Universalist Publishing House. 


to the great ethical truth of the organic unity of the race. 
Universalists think that our theology has recognised clearly 
the oneness of humanity in its doctrines of the Fall and of 
the Atonement, and yet failed to discern the bearing of this 
truth on eschatology. If we are all members one of another, 
if every life is simply a part of a greater whole, if all our 
actions, whether good or evil, find their place in the vast 
complicated web of human history, then it is difficult to see 
how the perfect salvation of any is possible without the 
redemption of all. Suppose we divide the race into the two 
great classes of the lost and the saved, we yet cannot conceive 
these two as altogether dissociated from each other. A million 
subtle and unbreakable cords of moral relation stretch across 
the gulf between them. In the great credit and debt account 
of the universe, it cannot be said that the creditors are all 
found among the saved, and the debtors all among the lost. 
Who can doubt that many sinners have just claims against 
many saints ? Who can doubt that many a man who has 
found salvation towards the end of an evil life will, on the 
great day of reckoning, see not a few of his victims among the 
multitudes of the lost ? And this consideration is only one 
among many which bring home to us the truth that we are all 
bound together in one bundle of life, and show us how hard it 
is to believe that the perfect blessedness of some of us can be 
harmonised with the ultimate perdition of others. This is 
really a radical problem, and its weight is felt by many persons 
who are not in the least theological. I suppose, for instance, 
that it explains the saying of Abraham Lincoln, " it must be 
everybody or nobody." And Hawthorne expressed it with 
great force when he wrote, referring to the degraded poor of 
our cities " Unless these slime-clogged nostrils can be made 
capable of inhaling celestial air, I know not how the purest 
and most intellectual of us can reasonably expect ever to taste 
a breath of it. The whole question of eternity is staked here. 
If a single one of these little ones be lost, the world is lost." 
4. These, then, are some of the elements of speculative 
strength in the theory that evil will ultimately come to an end 
through the reconciliation of all souls to God. We are not 


concerned to deny that they are important and impressive. 
It is, indeed, on its speculative side that this theory seems 
least open to attack. It is evident, however, that the 
argument it presents is founded partly on a philosophy that is 
not held by every one. Pragmatists and Pluralists, for instance, 
and those who are satisfied with a dualistic view of things, 
will not recognise the value of its contentions ; nor will those 
who say, with Boehme, that evil as well as good has its origin 
in God. It is evident, too, that those who, believing in 
naturalistic evolution, do not accept the doctrine of a necessary 
immortality for all, are outside the range of the Universalist 
artillery. So are those who assert that we cannot attribute 
" purpose " to God, or who believe that He has so limited 
Himself, in the creation of a moral universe, that even the 
issue of things is beyond His control. No doubt, also, many 
will think that Christian optimism reasons too confidently 
from general principles, forgets that there may be elements in 
the problem of destiny which it overlooks, affirms as certain 
what can only at best be matter of hope, and shows un 
warranted assurance in projecting the lines of present 
experience into the unknown future. 

A recent writer of distinction, following Professor William 
James, describes Universalism as an "idyllic" theory. The 
phrase is not very fortunate or fair. An idyll has no tragedy 
or stress in it ; and I am not aware of any important teacher 
of the optimistic school whose view of things is wanting in 
these elements. Who can see anything " idyllic " in Origen's 
doctrine of renewal by fire, or in the austere teaching of 
Martineau, who likens the sufferings of the lost soul to the 
torments of Prometheus ? l But the fact that learned writers 
do describe Universalism in this way indicates a widespread 
conviction that its confidence arises from the ignoring of many 
grim and terrible facts; that it overlooks the desperate 
wickedness of the world ; that it lives in an atmosphere of 
thought which is remote from reality, and sees things in a 
golden summer mist. 

Now, the force of the considerations which inspire this 

1 Stiulies of Christianity, p. 197, 


latter objection to Christian optimism is beyond doubt. Ex 
perience, alas ! does reveal to us many things in life which give 
the lie to hope. One suspects that there are times when the 
strongest believer in the victory of goodness feels as if his 
creed were the emptiest of delusions unreal as the pageantry 
of dreams. And yet, Christian apologists do well to be 
cautious in their appeals to the dark and menacing side of 
things. Pessimism is a dangerous ally of religion. The very 
facts to which we point in order to destroy Universalism are 
the enemies of all belief in the spiritual view of the world, in 
the dignity of the soul, in immortality, in the God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. The pettiness, the baseness, the 
cruelty and selfishness, the sheer brutality of the world these 
are realities which, if we submit to their tyranny, will make 
an end of faith. Faith is in its very nature the assertion that 
there is a truth that transcends the dreadful truths of experi 
ence. It sees death, but believes in life eternal ; it faces sin 
and suffering, but confesses a perfect love and pity; it 
recognises the cruelty of nature, but declares, " Behold the 
birds of the air ... your heavenly Father feedeth them." 
And so, if we are to blame optimism because it prophesies the 
complete victory of good, in spite of the world, the flesh and 
the devil, we must see to it that we make clear our own 
grounds for affirming that 

"God is love indeed, 
And love Creation's final law." 



1. The speculative side of Christian optimism is not, 
however, the aspect of it which has mainly provoked attack. 
Objection has been taken to it chiefly on moral and practical 
grounds. And it is to this side of the controversy that we 
must now address ourselves. 

It is frequently urged that Universalism has a bad and 


even fatal, moral influence, inasmuch as it belittles siii, en 
courages a slack view of the moral government of God, and 
weakens our sense of the tremendous issues that depend upon 
the act of moral choice. Edward White, for instance, calls it 
" A death-dealing heresy." 1 Franz Delitzsch states directly 
that a glance into the life of Petersen convinces us that 
" even the noblest soul may be absolutely perverted in all its 
relations by this doctrine." 2 Dr. Pusey speaks of Dr. 
Farrar's book on Eternal Hope, not merely with intellectual 
dissent, but with moral indignation. 3 And these are but 
examples of a tendency which we find to be very strong in 
certain quarters a disposition to meet the advocates of 
universal restoration not only with arguments that appeal 
to reason and the Scriptures, but with the assertion that their 
position involves a certain want of earnestness on the part of 
its defenders, and is fraught with great danger to the souls of 
those who accept it. 

This tendency seldom embodies itself in the definite state 
ment that Universalist teachers throughout the ages have 
shown unusual depravity. Indeed it could not, in view of the 
plain facts of history. No doubt such a charge has been 
made sometimes ; but only by perfervid theologians during an 
attack of that controversial intoxication which will occur even 
in blameless lives. Christian optimism, whatever its faults 
may be, has no reason to- be ashamed when we call the roll of 
its apostles beginning with Origen the Adamant, and ending, 
say, with Law, Erskine, Maurice, and Martineau. 

Moral distrust of this theory has generally, however, 
taken the form of suggesting that it is dangerous as a practical 
gospel taught to the masses of men. These, it is urged, will 
see in the doctrine that all souls must finally be saved an 
encouragement to delay moral decision, a ground for believing 
that however they may live in this present world they are 
assured of final blessedness a reason for saying, " We will risk 
the punishment that may await us hereafter, since we know 

1 Lift in Christ, p. 532. 

- tiystein of Biblical Psychology, p. 552. 

;! Wliui is of Faith, etc., pp. 1, 2. 


that beyond it lies eternal joy ; we will venture hell since, 
however long it may last, it will be as but a moment in ever 
lasting years." Thus may the spiritually unlearned pervert 
this doctrine to their own destruction. 

Now this argument is perfectly legitimate, and has 
naturally peculiar weight with preachers of the gospel. It 
represents a widespread fear of the Christian mind. It is, 
indeed, the root of the dislike which is felt by many, not only 
for Universalism but also for the idea that probation extends 
beyond the grave, and for the theory which professes not to 
know whether all men will be saved or not. The old 
Evangelical doctrine owes its force as a practical appeal mainly 
to its assertion that death may come at any hour and end the 
day of grace. And whoever doubts this assertion, or is not 
sure about the issue of things, does, as certainly as the 
Universalist, lose the right to say, " In this life only there is 
hope." Altogether, it is not surprising that the fear of losing 
power in urging the call to decision has been a strong check 
on every kind of eschatological speculation. 

This fear is, however, not a thing that can be tested by 
an appeal to history. The Larger Hope has never been 
preached to such an extent as to enable us to estimate its 
practical results. In the ancient Church it was for a time 
widely believed; but Augustine certainly makes no charge 
against the moral character of the " very many " who in his 
day held this heresy. History is thus practically silent on 
the question of the actual effects which have followed the 
denial of eternal punishment. And this is important, since 
history is the only ultimate judge of the moral value of doctrines. 
When that august and unerring authority withholds its 
verdict for want of evidence, other and less weighty tribunals 
are at serious disadvantage. On the other hand, history un 
doubtedly discourages confident judgments as to the practical 
fruits of religious opinion. It does not permit us to attach 
importance to evidence which goes to prove that in one or two 
cases a certain belief has had unfortunate moral effects. It 
shows that nearly every great doctrine has been misused, and 
that human nature exhibits a perverse ingenuity in turning 


lofty truths to ignoble ends. It teaches us, further, that every 
creed that is worth professing has been accused of moral 
depravity by its opponents; and it records a hundred 
prophecies of the terrible evils that were to result from the 
adoption of certain opinions most of them proved in the 
event to have been utterly vain. So that the general effect of 
an appeal to history is to enforce the lesson, "Judge nothing 
before the time." Also, those whom history chiefly calls us to 
admire were men who sought for truth as the pearl of great 
price, and left the God of truth ; who were obedient 
to their visions, and found in the end that these visions had 
not deceived them. 

As to the theoretical aspect of this question, we may 
grant that the mere speculative denial of endless evil is not 
likely to prove immoral. How can we weaken goodness by 
asserting its final triumph, or strengthen sin by saying that it 
must perish ? But we may also agree that it would be a 
foolish and perilous thing for the Church to declare, as its 
practical message to sinful men "You will certainly all be 
saved in the end." A perplexing gospel, indeed, to preach to 
unspiritual people closely beset by the many temptations of 
this our mortal life. We must admit, however, that if we 
belonged to a Universalist Society we would object to our 
position being put in any such way. We should probably say 
something like this : The" belief in final reconciliation is not a 
matter that concerns the immediate message of the gospel. 
It deals with an issue so remote as to have no bearing on the 
practical doctrine of future punishment. The important 
thing to remember about sin is that, whether it be endless or 
no, it is in its nature a bondage and a curse, the poison of life 
and the enemy of souls, working unspeakable misery and ruin 
both here and hereafter. Our doctrine of retribution is not 
gentle or indulgent, but full of terror. We deny that penalty 
is ever remitted ; though we confess that repentance alters its 
character, changing it from mere pain and loss to a helpful and 
friendly discipline. We deny that any man can ever escape 
the consequences of an evil life by contrition in the article of 
death. .We say that saint and sinner alike receives the 


reward of his deeds that "God is not mocked," and that 
" whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." We deny 
nothing as to future punishment except that it is absolutely 
without an end. And we make that denial because to assert 
the contrary would be inconsistent with our thoughts of God, 
and would mean the betrayal of that ideal of goodness which 
is the object of our worship. We are sure, also, that 
" nothing in the long run can strengthen the arm of moral 
appeal that is not in harmony with our highest conceptions of 
the divine character." l 

In some such manner as this we would expect theo 
logical optimists to answer the charge of teaching an immoral 
doctrine. Indeed, this statement is drawn in substance from 
their works. Whether it is satisfactory or no, is, of course, a 
matter of personal opinion. But it certainly serves to remind 
us of the perplexing truth that the same moral sense which 
inspires some with a fear of Universalism, demands in others 
the assurance that evil shall have an end. There are unques 
tionably some men and women for whom belief in ultimate 
good is an anchor of the soul which, if it were to fail, would 
leave them adrift on the wintry seas of unbelief. And this 
feature of the situation is one that surely ought to be 
remembered by those who are honestly concerned about the 
practical results of a hopeful eschatology. One is sometimes 
disposed to think that the chief danger of the Church to-day, 
in this regard, is to be found, not in any believing message, 
whether othrodox or no, but rather in the cowardice that will 
not face the ultimate issues, in the inanity of mind that cares 
for none of these things, in the subtle spirit of unbelief that 
veils as with a creeping mist the faith in immortality. 

2. Another objection to dogmatic Universalism, from the 
ethical point of view, is that it implies the coercion of the 
ivill by the power of God. " The power of grace," says Dorner, 
" can never fall into the physical sphere. Therefore rejection 
of grace remains possible." - That is to say men, as such, 
are in possession of free will; they cannot lose it without 

1 Gordon, Ingersall Lecture, p. 67. 

- System of C1n~istiaii Doctrine, iv. p. 428. 


ceasing to be themselves. And therefore they may eternally 
choose evil. To deny this possibility is to suppose the 
existence of some compelling force which in subduing the soul 
to itself must at the same time destroy its very identity as 
a moral, responsible being. To maintain that, by the mere 
power of the evolving purpose of God, sin will certainly come 
to an end, is to confuse physical with moral things, and is to 
imply that the development of spiritual beings is of the same 
kind as that of material worlds. It makes an end of freedom, 
and therefore of morality, and introduces the idea of necessity 
into the kingdom of the soul. 1 

Now there is certainly " vigour and rigour " in this con 
tention, and it is, at first sight, very impressive. As we 
consider it, however, we begin to feel that there is something 
in it that is not quite sound. We begin to suspect that it is an 
unsympathetic and external sort of reasoning. We come to be 
troubled with the thought that it presents an argument which 
might be urged against every type of religious assurance and 
every kind of belief in the sovereignty of God. There is no 
form of Christian faith that does not rest its hope of coming 
good on the gracious intention of the Almighty. Every man 
who looks in humble expectation for a place among the blessed, 
every one who cherishes a good hope for his beloved dead, 
every one who believes that some at least of the human 
race will certainly be saved, places his confidence in the 
thought that God has a purpose of good towards us a purpose 
which He will accomplish. The grace of God is the only 
security of man ; and the grace of God is simply His power 
working by appointed means towards an end of redemption. 
Without the divine decree, no sacrament, no faith, no works, 
could convert and save the soul. To believe this is of the 
essence of piety. No confidence or trust, however limited, 
which draws its life from anything else than faith in the loving 
will of the Father has the slightest claim to call itself religious. 
But if this be so, it is evident that the hope of the Universalist 
rests on the same grounds as that of the Calvinist or the 
Roman Catholic or any other Christian. No Christian is a 

1 Cf. Griffith Jones, Faith and Immortality, pp. 241-248. 


fatalist, nor thinks of God as achieving His ends in the 
spiritual sphere by means of mechanical compulsion. Every 
religious man believes that divine grace operates in a moral 
and rational way ; working within us, leavening the thought, 
purifying the will, persuading the reason, and so subduing us 
to itself. And this is just as true of the Universalist as of any 
other Christian thinker. He differs from others simply in his 
conception of the extent of that redemption which it is the 
will of the Most High to accomplish. While they think that 
it is of limited sweep, he believes that it will be effective for 
all ; but he and they are entirely agreed as to the nature of 
the agency which is to bring it about. He is not, therefore, 
peculiarly open to the charge of denying the freedom of the 
will ; nor is the difficulty of reconciling liberty and necessity 
greater for him than for others. After all, predestination, in 
some sense, is undoubtedly a New Testament doctrine. It is 
also as inseparable from a speculative belief in God as it is 
inherent in religious faith. And the perplexities it creates, 
from the ethical point of view, are neither increased nor 
diminished by the assertion that the Divine purpose is of 
universal sweep. These remain of equal force, whether we 
say that God intends to redeem a chosen number of men, or 
whether we affirm that He wills the total destruction of evil in 
every soul. The grace that is able without compulsion to 
save some, may be able without compulsion to save all. 

3. There remains, however, one objection to Universal- 
ism, on its ethical side, to which it is difficult to find a con 
clusive answer. This objection is that to assert the final 
salvation of every man is really to deny the existence of any 
ultimate risk in the moral life. The other two theories of 
future destiny do clearly conserve the idea of uttermost 
spiritual peril. According to the orthodox doctrine, that peril 
is the loss of all that makes life worth the while, and the 
falling into a state in which repentance, joy, light, hope, peace 
are all for ever out of reach. According to the theory of 
Conditional Immortality, again, the danger that threatens the 
soul is actual extinction of the whole personality. Thus these 
have both a definite answer to give to the question What is 


perdition ? what is the peril that spiritually besets us ? what 
are the stakes in the conflict with sin ? Each of them says 
that if a man crosses a given line in his course of evil he falls 
into a pit out of which there is no release. 

Now Christian optimism also has an answer to this question, 
and it is one to which we cannot deny the attributes of pity 
and terror. In its view, the peril of the sinner is the risk of 
protracted misery, of a long, long struggle to regain ground, of 
an inconceivable torment in the fire that purges the soul, of 
paying to the last inite the debt he owes to the order he has 
offended and the immutable law he has broken. The penalty 
of remaining impenitent throughout this age may be to spend 
the whole of the succeeding age in reaping the harvest of sin. 
He who spends to-day in evil will inherit a bitter to-morrow. 
He who will not be salted with the good flame of self-denial 
here, must be salted with the penal flame of retribution here 
after. Perdition is the state into which the soul falls that 
persists in evil until it has brought upon itself a fearful condi 
tion of weakness and misery, despair and hopelessness, out of 
which it will be impossible for the great Physican to deliver 
it, except by long and weary ways of pain and fire. In 
Browning's Ring and the Book, the Pope expresses the earnest 
prayer that the criminal Guido may see the truth and repent 
one instant ere his death, and so escape the awful process by 
which God redeems the soul that passes hence impenitent. 

" So may the truth be flashed out by one blow, 
And Guido see, one instant, and be saved. 
Else I avert my face, nor follow him 
Into that sad, obscure, sequestered state 
Where God unmakes but to remake the soul 
He else made first in vain ; which must not be." 1 

Uriiversalism can go as far as this in its thought of 
future doom. It says that the soul must ultimately be 
redeemed, since God can make nothing in vain. But it may 
well ask men to turn their eyes in awe and reverence from 
the contemplation of the sad, obscure, sequestered state 

1 Ritigand tJie Book, x. lines 2127-2132 ; cf. Origen, De Principiis, Lib. II. 
c. z. 5. 


where the impenitent dwell, and to bow in dread before the 
thought of those methods whereby God brings a soul to 
nothingness and uttermost destruction, in order that He may 
make it again according to His will. Even as this earth, 
according to old tradition, is to be destroyed by fire that a 
new earth may appear in purity and peace, so the obstinate 
soul has to be unmade by the fearful hand of God, broken 
down and resolved as in flame, that it may appear at last in the 
white garment of the redeemed. This is Universalist doctrine ; 
and it is full enough of terror and judgment, weighty enough 
in awe and menace. Nothing can exceed the severity of the 
teaching that the world to come is for the obstinate evil-doer 
a place wherein " God unmakes but to remake the soul." 

It may, however, still be said that Universalism does 
imply that there is no ultimate risk in the moral life, no 
capital penalty, no final doom. It sees a morning beyond the 
darkest night, recovery at the end of the direst disease, peace 
as the issue of the weariest pain, and home as the goal of the 
wandering feet. There is thus no limitless peril for the soul. 
Evil cannot inflict a final doom. It cannot make good its 
direst threats, or bring upon us the worst that we fear. The 
moral universe is like a country which does not inflict on the 
criminal either death or penal servitude for life. In the moral 
adventure of this mortal state, men are like mountain climbers 
with a life-line round their waist ; they may fall far and deep, 
but they cannot crash to destruction at the foot of the preci 
pice, and they are sure to be brought to safety again. They 
are like gamblers who cannot stake, or lose, their all, or like 
swimmers in shallow water who know that they cannot drown. 

Universalist teaching does certainly lend itself to such 
a construction. Its assertion, that all men will attain to the 
fulness of beatitude, may be understood to mean not only that 
sin and suffering will cease, but that there is no such thing 
as the danger of permanent spiritual loss. And when Chris 
tian optimism goes so far as this it does seem to fail of 
complete harmony with the witness of the conscience, the 
forebodings of the soul. We do feel that, in the fight with 
evil, we face a foe who means the very worst. We do have 


the conviction that the conflict with besetting sin is a conflict 
to the end. We set no limits to the danger that encompasses 
our life. We have the stern sense which belongs to the 
soldier when he marches into real battle the sense that our 
risk is not only pain, disablement, defeat, but incurable wounds, 
ultimate disaster. There can be little doubt that this is the 
testimony, not only of the common conscience, but of the 
great moral fighters, the saints and the heroes of the spiritual 
life. Is it not the meaning of St. Paul's cry " wretched 
man that I am ; who shall deliver me from the body of this 
death"? Is it not implied in the saying of Jesus "What 
shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his 
own soul " ? 

This is the element in the witness of the moral sense 
that is emphasised by the doctrine of eternal punishment, and 
it is the fact that gives us pause when we are asked to believe 
that there is no such thing as final penalty. We may go a 
long way with optimism, and yet may dissent from it here. 
We may agree that all sin and suffering and all alienation from 
God and opposition to His will must finally cease, and yet may 
not be persuaded that every soul, no matter how long or how 
terribly it may have sinned, must attain at last to an equal 
blessedness with all the saints. We may hope that the dis 
cords will pass from the music of humanity, and yet may 
believe that the minor chords will remain regret, impoverish 
ment, irreparable loss. No soul may be lost, and yet many 
souls may lose. If, indeed, no final penalty can be incurred, 
and if it will be all the same at last for the worst and for the 
best of men, it is hard to explain the warnings of conscience, 
the urgency of the voice of Christ, or the pathos of the Chris 
tian appeal through all the bygone years. It may surely be 
that a man may persist so long in evil ways as to inflict 
incurable injury upon his nature. It may be that even after 
all the mysterious discipline of the judgment, all the 
terrors of spiritual death, all the patient efforts of the divine 
grace, he shall find himself, at last, for ever incapable of the 
highest and best, with something lost that might have been 
saved, and something dead that might have been alive. 



I have thus endeavoured to sketch the course of Univer- 
salist speculation and to give an account of its theoretic and 
practical aspects, with an examination of the arguments 
commonly used against it. Our discussion has served to show 
that this view of the End of things has its source in an 
element of New Testament teaching ; and that it is entitled to 
a hearing within the Church, being, in fact, only the applica 
tion to eschatology of that optimistic type of thought which 
has never ceased to be a part of the catholic tradition. We 
have seen that Universalism is able to present a strong case 
for itself on speculative grounds ; also, that the ethical objec 
tions which are urged against it are not all of much force; 
and, finally, that its main weakness lies in its failure to affirm 
that there is an ultimate peril in the spiritual life that this 
is the point at which it parts most distinctly from the general 
Christian tradition, and seems to present the greatest difficulty 
when regarded in the light of moral experience. 

But whatever we may think of Universalist teaching, in 
the rigour of its dogmatic form, we must gladly admit that it 
stands for a priceless element in our religion for the assurance 
that truth is stronger than error, good than evil, light than 
darkness ; and that God has a purpose of redemption in His 
Son which exceeds in sweep and depth and beauty all that we 
have ever dreamed. Christian faith in all ages has cherished 
a secret hope richer and more tender than it has been able to 
express, and has always been the prophet of the victory of 
God. The things that finally abide in the light of the face of 
Christ are not fear and pain and death, but faith and hope and 
love. And God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all 
that we are able either to ask or to think. 




(a) 4-N enlightened perception of one's own ignorance is a 
desirable possession ; and it is a thing which the student of 
eschatology is likely to acquire. It is, indeed, difficult to 
imagine any subject of research better fitted than this to dis 
courage confidence and to chasten the spirit of assurance. It 
is little wonder, perhaps, that many scholars have given up 
this branch of theology in a kind of intellectual despair, and 
have betaken themselves to fields of inquiry where the ground 
is more secure and the prospects of a harvest less remote. 
And yet, however highly we may estimate the value of a 
lesson in humility, we are loath to admit that nothing better 
than this is to be obtained from the study of so great a theme. 
Still less are we able to agree that a general uncertainty of 
mind as to the Last Things can be the permanent mood of 
Christian thought. It is u somewhat dangerous thing to say 
that our religion has not, and never can have, a positive 
eschatology. The different branches of theological science are 
so closely related to each other that to paralyse any one of 
them is to weaken all the rest. If religious thought surrenders 
any of its ancient territories it may have to go on withdrawing 
itself from one position after another, until it is left with no 
dominion to defend, and without any place among the powers 
that rule the world. Moreover, it is especially perilous for 
theology to proclaim itself defeated and impotent in that 
region of thought with which we are here concerned. If men 
be told that the Christian religion has no definite message 
regarding the things of the world to come they will be apt to 
distrust its assurance in more immediate matters; they will 



suspect a prophet that professes to lead them on their path of 
life, and yet is in doubt about the end of the journey ; they 
will say You know not whither we go, and how can you 
know the way ? 

(6) But apprehensions of this kind are really without 
foundation, since the Christian view of immortality is never 
likely to be governed by agnostic influences. It may be that 
the present mood of religious thought, in this as in some other 
departments of theology, is one of discouragement; but this 
mood will pass. It may be that the hope of the endless life 
burns to-day with a chastened light ; but it will . brighten 
again. It may be that we have tended of late towards a 
position that really denies the rationality of faith, and towards 
a temper of mind which shrinks from the greater adventures 
and shuns the ultimate problems ; but this is so foreign to the 
genius of Christianity that it is certain to yield ere long to a 
braver and a more believing spirit. It is characteristic of our 
religion that it never despairs of knowledge, nor is willing to 
be divorced from form or separated from dogma. It has never 
been content to be " unclothed," but has always sought to be 
" clothed upon " with a better and more enduring garment of 
thought. If it is sometimes a pilgrim, it is always a stranger 
in the land of doubt. It is responsive to the intellectual 
demands of each succeeding age; and it always aspires to 
clearness of vision. It has never sought to evade the problems 
of faith, and least of all those that relate to belief in a life to 
come. We have seen how the great thinkers of the Church, 
like Origen and Augustine, Erigena and Aquinas, with so 
many later philosophers, mystics, and poets, have accepted the 
challenge of the future, and sought to meet its questions with 
a clear reply. And we cannot doubt that these have repre 
sented the true genius of our faith and the tradition which is 
likely to prevail. Christianity has always been a religion of 
the endless life and the resurrection from the dead ; its 
treasure has always been stored, and its hope has ever been fixed, 
in that which is within the veil; and it cannot abate its 
testimony regarding these transcendent things, or its interest 
in the problems they create, without departing from its tradi- 



tion, forgetting the Easter light in which it began, and ceasing 
to be the witness to the Conqueror of death. 

(c) We may claim, indeed, that the line of historical study 
which has been indicated in these lectures does not encourage 
the notion that eschatological thought has reached its term 
and climax of development. It has enabled us to trace certain 
lines of movement in Christian speculation, which are seen to 
be advancing towards some point of agreement that is still, 
perhaps, a long way off. Their evolution is not complete ; and 
if they were to be arrested at their present stage they would 
resemble streams which had been suddenly frozen in the midst 
of their career. If such an arrest in the process of thought 
were possible, history would have neither meaning nor purpose. 

(d) But our discussion has done a little more than assure 
us that eschatology will proceed upon its way; it has fore 
shadowed the goal of its advance. It has shown us what are 
the abiding elements in our doctrine of the future life, and 
what the things in it that are doomed to pass away. If it has 
not brought us to the point of definite assertion as to the 
ultimate problems, it has at least led us on the road. If it has 
not enabled us to prophesy the form which the structure of 
dogmatic eschatology is likely to assume, it has, nevertheless, 
permitted us to discern the nature and outline of the founda 
tion on which it must be built. 



(a) In the first place, the history of eschatology shows us 
that the apocalyptic element in our religion is a permanent thing, 
belonging to its essential genius. It was not by accident, nor 
merely by force of circumstance, that the forms of Jewish 
" revelation " were taken over by Christianity. These things 
were adopted by the new faith because they were congenial 
to it, and because the substance of their meaning was a part 
of its gospel. The Christian belief in immortality itself is 


rooted in those same convictions which underlay the ancient 
hope of the age to come. If we strip apocalypse of all that is 
extreme, violent, and accidental, and ask ourselves what the 
source of its faith in immortality was, we find it to have been 
the conviction that the present order of things was not one 
that satisfied the instinct of justice and fitness, or one that 
conformed to the hopes which religion inspires, and that, there 
fore, men must look for the appearing of a better state. And 
this remains essentially the Christian belief. Of course, our 
religion has never been pessimistic in the Jewish sense. It 
has never really held that this world was so given over to evil 
that nothing remained for it but total and swift destruction. 
It has never believed that God fulfils His highest ends by 
violence and catastrophe, but has always put its trust mainly 
in the slow and patient methods of grace whereby the Spirit 
of life redeems and sanctifies the souls of men. It has always 
been in a measure, as the Master was, at home in the world, 
rejoicing in its glory and order, seeing in its august harmonies 
a revelation of God's eternal power and Godhead, believing 
that in some sense " earth is but the shadow of heaven, and 
things therein each to the other like." It has shown, indeed, 
how highly it values this material world by offering its 
worship to God through sensuous forms architecture, sound, 
and colour. The faith that built the cathedrals and inspired 
the painting of Da Vinci and Angelo and the sacred music of 
Handel and Mozart, is not a faith that is a stranger in this 
world, or longs to see it pass away. It is evident, also, that 
the gospel, in requiring of us a spirit of generous and hopeful 
service towards our fellow-men, implies an estimate of human 
value and possibility which is as far as can be from apocalyptic 
pessimism. How should we be asked to serve a race that was 
worthless, or to labour hopefully in a world that was fit only 
for the burning ? 

(6) But, while Christianity thus departs from the extreme 
pessimism of the Jewish " revelation "-books, it yet agrees 
with them in that it declares the present world to be out of 
harmony with its ideal, and even at enmity with its loftier 
hopes. The evanescence of this life, its frustrations and 


inequalities, its broken promises, its insoluble problems, its 
inability to afford time and room for the self-fulfilment of the 
soul all these things have always been recognised by our 
religion and been asserted with passionate conviction by its 
prophets and saints. When the Christian mind has considered 
this earthly existence in the light of the knowledge of God, it 
has been unable to find in it a complete revelation of the 
Father, or even to reconcile some of its aspects with that con 
ception of the Divine character which it received from 
Jesus Christ. It has been compelled to confess that if this 
life were the best gift which God had to bestow, it would be 
impossible to affirm His perfect justice, mercy, and love. 
Hence, it has staked all its possessions on the belief that there 
remains, beyond the horizon of our mortal sight, another world 
which is the fulfilment of all the hopes of faith and the com 
plete expression of the Father's will a world wherein there 
shall be found the vindication of Christ, and the establishment 
of justice and mercy in perfect retribution and redress. 

(c) This has certainly been the mood in which historical 
Christianity has maintained its faith in the endless life. And 
it represents essentially the apocalyptic view. That it is likely 
to be the permanent attitude of our Religion may be inferred 
from the example of Jesus, whose doctrine of the coming 
Kingdom was always associated with the promise of retribu 
tion, compensation, and reward. Also, it is reasonable to say 
that the argument from the character of God, and especially 
from His justice, will always remain the strongest defence of 
faith in immortality. It is often said, of course, that this 
argument is of little value, inasmuch as nothing that may 
happen in a future state can possibly annul the inequality and 
injustice of this present world. This is an assertion that is 
made with assurance, as if it were self-evident, but it is difficult 
to see its ground in reasoning. If it rests on the idea that it 
is impossible to repair or retrieve evils that are past, we must 
agree that this is not an opinion which Christian thought can 
entertain. Our central doctrine of redemption, our whole gospel 
of salvation, implies that the lost can be restored, that wrong 
can be righted, and that things which are dark and hard and 


cruel can be made to subserve a greater good. Moreover, the 
belief that reparation and redress are possible, is so universally 
accepted by mankind, and so constantly assumed by us in our 
dealings with each other, that it is quite unreasonable to 
exclude it from our doctrine of the world that is to come. 

(d) A more definite objection to this argument for im 
mortality is that which is stated by Hume. 1 His contention 
is that we must form our view of the Divine character entirely 
from the facts of this present order, and that we are not 
entitled to create out of our own imagination a certain belief 
about God, and then insist that there must be a world in which 
this belief shall be justified. " We must not assume," he says, 
" that God has attributes beyond what He has exerted in this 
universe, with which we are alone acquainted." " Whence," 
he asks, " do we infer the existence of such attributes ? " He 
further says, " It is very safe for us to affirm that whatever 
we know the Deity to have actually done is best ; but it is 
very dangerous to affirm that He must always do what seems 
to us best." Thus, Hume's argument is that our knowledge of 
God must be drawn from His revelation of Himself in this 
world, the only one of which we have experience, and that we 
must mould our view of His mind and will on the knowledge 
thus given us. It is not permitted us to say that God ought 
to do what He has not done, or that in another state of being 
He will reveal a righteousness or mercy which will be more 
according to our ideals than that which He manifests here. 
But this objection of Hume's overlooks the fact that our ideals 
of love and equity are themselves the creation of God, and are 
as much to be counted among His works as any of the stars. 
Not only so, but these ideals are a surer guide to the knowledge 
of God than any material thing can be. It is because the 
Spirit of the Highest has Himself taught us to think about 
Him in a way that is not encouraged by certain facts of present 
experience, it is because He has Himself inspired us with 
our discontent, that we have hope of a state to come which 
shall be the fulfilment of the promises made to our souls that 
we look for a " new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth 

1 Essay on Immortality (Green's edit.), vol. ii. pp. 400-406. 


righteousness." We see everywhere promise but not fulfilment, 
punishment but not a perfect judgment, recompense but not a 
fulness of reward, many beginnings but no completeness. And 
because we see all this, and yet believe in a God who is the 
Father of Jesus Christ and the maker of perfect things, we 
cannot but believe in immortality. 

(e) But if Christianity retains essentially the apocalyptic 
standpoint in its assertion of immortality, it also employs the 
ancient Jewish symbols when it seeks to give definite content 
to its doctrine of the future state and the things that are to 
come. When we think about this matter we see that humanity 
has a twofold destiny an end towards which the race is 
marching in this present world, and an end towards which the 
individual life proceeds here and hereafter. These two are 
separate and distinct, and yet they are related to each other 
and must ultimately merge into one when the goal of earthly 
history is reached. They are both apparent to every mind 
that looks out upon the future with the eyes of faith and hope, 
and they both contribute elements to the problem of eschat- 
ology. Jewish prophecy solved the puzzle thus suggested, by 
its doctrines of the Kingdom, Hades, Judgment, Resurrection, 
Gehenna, and Eternal Life ; and Christianity has been content 
to accept these forms, while endeavouring to purify and enrich 
them and to render them increasingly fitted to express its 
larger thoughts as to the "destiny alike of humanity and of the 
individual, both here and hereafter. 

Thus our historical Faith has been loyal to its origins, 
and preaches immortality and retribution, fulfilment and re 
dress, on the ancient grounds and under the ancient forms. 
Christianity is not " a purely spiritual religion," in the commonly 
accepted meaning of that much-abused phrase. It is not a 
religion of bare ideas and principles, but of ideas and principles 
embodied in concrete forms. It is a faith of symbol, sacra 
ment, and sign. It does not speak of an abstract Word of God, 
but of a Word made flesh and dwelling among us. It does 
not witness to a process of redemption, but to a redemption 
wrought in Jesus Christ. In like manner, it does not proclaim 
immortality merely, but resurrection ; not resurrection only, 


but judgment. These are but forms, if you will, only the 
coloured garments which spiritual realities assume in order 
that we may be conscious of their presence* But they are 
forms which have shown themselves to be in harmony with 
the genius of our religion. They stand for something which, 
without them, might be lost to Christian thought and life. No 
doubt a man may not accept them and yet may truly believe 
that there is a life to come, and that the eternal love of God 
will work a perfect righteousness, for each soul and for all 
souls, through everlasting years. But it may be doubted 
whether the theology of the Church Catholic will ever leave 
out of its message those pregnant words and picturesque teach 
ings which were used by Jesus, and which bring home to the 
imaginations and hearts and consciences of men, truths that 
are not capable of being expressed in the rigid terms of the 
understanding. We cannot express the Christian doctrine of 
immortality without the symbol of resurrection. We cannot 
enforce the lesson of responsibility better than by the Parable 
of the Judgment. Nor can we hope to give vividness of mean 
ing to the thought of the everlasting future, if we cease to use 
those symbols which speak of the intermediate state, the 
dreadful forces of retribution, the manifold blessing of eternal 
life, and the beauty and order of the City of God. Wisely, 
then, may all who hold the historic faith adhere to these 
ancient forms of sound words, which are so simple and concrete 
and yet so capable of varied and free interpretation. It is well 
to say, " I believe in righteous retribution here and hereafter " ; 
but it is better to say, " I believe in the Judgment, and in the 
Kingdom of God." It is well to assert the immortality of the 
soul ; but it is better to adhere to the old confession, " I believe 
in the resurrection of the body, and in the life everlasting." 




This, then, is one positive result that is yielded by the 
study of eschatology from the historical standpoint the 
assurance that the apocalyptic element in religious faith is of 
permanent meaning and value. But, in the second place, this 
method of inquiry does cast some light on the Christian 
doctrine of ultimate destiny, inasmuch as it enables us to trace 
certain speculative tendencies which have been at work in the 
Church from the beginning, have always modified the teaching 
of theologians on this subject, and are seen to be constantly 
moving through conflict and opposition towards an harmonious 

In the discussion of this problem of the End we enter into 
a region of thought which reaches beyond the sphere of ancient 
prophecy and symbol. No doubt, the three great theories of 
final destiny can all be stated in terms of the Kingdom of God ; 
no doubt, they all find suggestions in apocalyptic predictions, 
and have all been coloured in their expression by old concep 
tions of future pain and blessedness. Nevertheless, it remains 
true that religious reflection has not been dominated by Jewish 
influences in its endeavours to forecast the issue of things. 
The problem of the End, as it has presented itself to the 
Christian mind, has been created by the spirit of the Gospel, 
has been complicated by many historical forces, and has 
increased in weight and urgency as advancing knowledge and 
experience have revealed the immensity of the universe, the 
vastness of the evolutionary process, and the complexity of 
human life. 

1. Meaning of Church doctrine. Looking back on the course 
of history, one sees that it would be unfair to blame the Church 
for having refused to formulate the hope of salvation beyond 
the grave, or to proclaim the message of a final blessedness for 
all. Jesus, perhaps, set it an example in this sense when He 


limited His prophecies to the coming of the Kingdom and the 
day of Judgment. The Church might thus claim to have His 
sanction when it declared the decisive importance of this life 
and the permanence of its issues. Also, in doing this, it may be 
said to have confined itself within the limits of its commission. 
The Church's cure of souls is a matter of this present world. 
The gospel which it proclaims declares a redemption that was 
accomplished under terrestrial conditions, through a Life in the 
flesh and the suffering of death. All its sacraments and 
ordinances are designed to sustain men amid the trials of their 
present existence, to enable them to achieve a moral victory 
now, and to prepare them for the judgment of God hereafter. 
Also, the morality it enforces presupposes the circumstances of 
this mortal state its complicated social relations, its desires 
and needs, its conflict of flesh and spirit, its change and decay, 
its perpetual pilgrimage towards death. Hence, if the Church 
fails to save men in this life it fails finally. It has no further 
opportunity of extending to them its help and service. It sees 
them pass in a state of loss into a region which is beyond its 
reach, where the things that constitute moral probation here 
may not repeat themselves, nor the sacred opportunities of this 
world any more return. This is the inner meaning of the 
Church's doctrine of Eternal Punishment. Perdition signifies 
failure to achieve a peace with God during the life that is lived 
in the flesh, the only life with which the Church is concerned 
and in which the moral battle, as we know it, can be either 
lost or won. 

2. Theological perplexities. But while we may thus have 
a sympathetic understanding of the traditional doctrine, and 
may recognise its practical truth and force, we must admit 
that it creates many perplexities for the theologian, whose 
business it is to show that the Gospel is a reasonable thing. 
These perplexities religious thinkers have had to face; and 
they have felt the burden of them in all ages. We have seen 
that they have always been of divided opinion on the subject 
of ultimate destiny, and that even those who have defended 
the same doctrine have differed widely in their interpretation 
of it. Indeed, this feature of Christian thought has been so 


marked as to create a certain degree of wonder and distrust. 
We may well marvel to find that our authorities have not been 
able to agree in their answer to the question whether all men 
are immortal, or in assuring us that evil will have an end, or 
even in declaring that God really intends the salvation of 
every man. Christianity believes in a future state of retribu 
tion and redress, and yet its teachers are not certain that moral 
history extends beyond the grave ; it is a religion of redemption, 
and yet its interpreters are in doubt as to the scope of that 
redemption ; it is a prophet of the Kingdom, and yet they 
cannot tell us whether or no that Kingdom is appointed to a 
perfect triumph. 

This is certainly a perplexing state of things, and it affords 
opportunity for unsympathetic criticism. We may fairly urge, 
however, that it has its origin in certain features of New 
Testament teaching, and in the contradictory nature of the 
evidence that is supplied by reason and conscience and the 
facts of life. The differences of eschatological theory are, no 
doubt, due in large measure to the faithfulness with which 
theologians have endeavoured to interpret Revelation, and to 
their steadfast courage in facing all the aspects of a great and 
baffling problem. But, however this may be, the important 
thing to be noted here is that this conflict of theological 
opinion does show a tendency to pass away. Indeed, one of the 
best rewards of historical study in this field of doctrine is the 
perception that forms of thought which seem most utterly 
opposed, exhibit signs of underlying harmony and afford the 
promise of reconciliation. 

3. Harmonising tendencies. (a) When, for instance, we 
consider the different theories of destiny we see that, while 
they contradict each other as intellectual statements, they each 
assert an aspect of religious truth, and together bear witness 
to certain convictions which are not opposed but are comple 
mentary and harmonious. Also, it is to be remembered that 
they are at one in maintaining a very stern and searching 
doctrine of retribution. It is quite unfair to say that the 
theory of Conditional Immortality or of Universal Restoration 
attenuates in any degree the terror of judgment to come. The 


mere denial that sin and pain are everlasting takes nothing 
from the prophecy of punishment. Indeed, those who make 
this denial often assert the doctrine of penalty with greater 
rigour than do those who maintain the eternity of evil. 
Conditionalists, while they take away the element of dread 
which lies in the belief that pain will never end, substitute 
for it the terrpr of annihilation. And Universalist teachers 
commonly affirm with peculiar emphasis that every man must 
reap as he has sown. They do not, as a rule, admit that death 
or any other creature can separate sin from its consequences, 
or that any sudden crisis of repentance can destroy the results 
of a misspent life. They offer no hope to any one of escaping 
the entail of evil years, or of attaining to final peace until he 
has paid the debt he has incurred. And so it is true that all 
theories of destiny are agreed in practical effect. If any one 
of them take from the prophecy of judgment in one respect, it 
adds to it in another ; and whichever of them be accepted, the 
terror of the Lord remains. 

(&) It is evident, also, that each of these theories is at some 
point in intellectual agreement with one or other of its rivals. 
Thus the orthodox doctrine is at one with Universalism in 
asserting the unending existence of every soul. On the other 
hand, Conditionalism, while it is opposed on this point to both 
of these, agrees with orthodoxy in teaching that there is such 
a thing as final perdition, and with Universalism in asserting 
that evil will pass away and that the universe will reach a 
state of perfect moral harmony. Again, if one considers the 
doctrine of Eternal Punishment, as it is stated by many writers, 
one sees that it comes very close to Conditionalism in its view 
of perdition. The state of final loss, as depicted by these 
teachers, is one in which there is no freedom of choice, no 
sensibility to moral distinctions, no hope, no movement, no 
variety of experience. It is a state in which existence is 
emptied of everything that is positive of everything except 
weakness, darkness, and misery. Now, it is evident that 
creatures who were reduced to such a condition as this would 
really have suffered destruction. They would have no place 
in the moral or intelligent universe, would retain no real like- 


ness to humanity, would be only ghosts and phantoms and 
empty masks. Theologians who believe in such a destiny for 
men might as well affirm annihilation. They are separated 
from Couditionalists by a mere metaphysical opinion as to 
the indestructibility of the soul. This is at the best a weak 
partition, and it is wearing very thin. 

(c) On the other hand, the great exponents of the orthodox 
dogma have shown a tendency to approach at one point or 
another to the position of the Optimists. When Augustine, 
for instance, maintained that all souls must remain essentially 
good, that perdition must be conceived in such a way as to 
have a place in the harmony of the universe, and that the 
purpose of God would suffer no defeat, he made assertions that 
are hardly to be reconciled with the doctrine of eternal evil. 
Similarly, Aquinas, in affirming that positive suffering would 
have an end and only the penalty of spiritual loss remain, not 
only departed from the popular view, but opened the door to 
hopeful speculation. And these great teachers have set the 
example to many later theorists who have modified in different 
ways the notion of everlasting punishment ; some denying the 
eternity of pain, some the unending duration of sin; others 
rejecting the idea that perdition will be a state of unmingled 
misery, and others suggesting either that very few will suffer 
the ultimate doom, or that the only penalty that will endure 
may be of such a kind as can be accepted with reverent and 
willing submission by those to whom it is appointed. In all 
this there is a distinct approach to the conception of an 
universal salvation. It is evident, also, that those evangelical 
theologians who affirm that repentance unto life will always 
remain possible, or who hold that all punishment is meant for 
the good of the sinner, or who say that God really purposes 
the redemption of the whole world it is evident that none of 
these is able to deny that every man may finally be saved. 
If effectual repentance be for ever possible, it may take place 
at last in every life ; if punishment be always remedial, it may 
in the end work a cure in all to whom it is applied ; and if 
God has taken in hand the salvation of all mankind, it is 
conceivable that He may succeed. 


(d) Thus the traditional doctrine of destiny has always 
shown signs of unstable equilibrium inclining either, on the 
one hand, to the idea of ultimate death, or, on the other, to 
that of final restoration. Nor can we wonder at this. Acute 
pain lasting for ever with unchanging intensity, and issuing in 
nothing, is not within our power to imagine and is contrary to 
all experience. In like manner, we cannot imagine any moral 
life going on and on without movement in one direction or 
another. Every moral being grows better or worse as the days 
and years go by ; indeed, it is of the essence of the matter that 
this should be so. Hence orthodox thinkers, whether they 
have thought of perdition chieHy as a state of punishment or 
as a state of sin, have generally come to recognise that there 
must be progress in the life of the lost, either downwards, 
through increasing weakness to complete futility or even death, 
or else gradually upwards towards some higher level of being. 
It may thus be said with confidence that very few theologians 
of the first rank have defended the traditional belief without 
compromise, without showing signs of embarrassment, and 
without suggesting alleviations of their doctrine, more or less 
subtle, more or less important in their logical effect. 

4. Historical construction. But what is the fruit of this 
analysis ? Has it anything more than an academic interest ? 
Does it yield any constructive results by enabling us to indicate 
the type of doctrine which is likely to be developed in the 
future ? Surely it does. It shows that certain elements of 
belief bear the aspect of permanence, have kept asserting their 
vitality, and have always been affirmed again after every period 
of neglect. And in doing this, it certainly supplies grounds 
for rational prediction, since prophecy of the future is nothing 
else than an intelligent interpretation of the past and of 
the present. When history testifies that some beliefs have 
survived throughout the Christian ages, and that some specula 
tions have appeared again and again in the thought of the 
Church, and have manifested in later times increasing life and 
force, it is reasonable to expect that these beliefs and specula 
tions will be found to have a place in the final statement of 
the faith. Adopting this view, then, it will be fitting to close 


this discussion with an endeavour to indicate the more im 
portant of those eschatological opinions which have been so 
persistent that they may be counted among the things that 
the theology of the future will recognise. If we believe that 
there is a Spirit of revelation at work in the Christian society, 
we are compelled to admit that the dominant tendencies of 
Christian thought are possessed of authority, and are guides 
which, if we can only understand them aright, will lead us 
towards the truth. Of course, a statement that seeks, from 
this standpoint, to interpret the historic witness of the Church 
is not quite the same in character as a declaration of personal 
opinion, nor can it be an account of things presently believed 
among us. It is one thing to write down what we would like 
to think, or what contemporary theologians think, but quite 
another matter to study the tendencies that have prevailed 
throughout the centuries and to conjecture the goal towards 
which they are moving. 

(1) In the first place, then, we may attribute permanent 
value to the belief that underlies the ancient threefold doctrine 
of immediate destiny. This doctrine is stated in a very definite 
form by the Roman and the Greek Churches, though the latter 
does not formulate it in the terms of the Western theology. 
The Protestant communions do not, of course, accept it, nor 
are likely to do so, in a strict dogmatic sense. The Eoman 
idea that the redeemed will suffer retributive pain hereafter is 
foreign to our habits of thought, and seems to us out of 
harmony with the spirit of the Gospel. Nevertheless, later 
Protestant opinion does often tend to assert the substance of 
the old belief. It admits that there are many who pass from 
this life, repentant and reconciled to God, but yet in a low 
state of spiritual attainment. And for these it anticipates an 
experience of gradual education, training, and enlightenment, 
leading upwards to the fulness of beatitude. It thus inclines 
to surrender the opinion that a miracle takes place at death 
which suddenly effects the complete sanctification of all who 
are saved. Also, it very commonly accepts the idea of future 
probation or opportunity, and so affirms the existence of an 
intermediate state. And in all this it shows a recognition of 


those things that have given vitality to the Koman dogma, 
though it displays not the least sign of assenting to that dogma 
in its historical form. 

Thus, we may say that Christian theology as a whole l has 
certainly tended to teach or imply that the souls of men when 
they leave this world may be divided into three classes, (a) 
There are those who may be described as saints of God, learned 
in the mysteries of Christ, graduates in the school of the eternal 
light, lovers of love and of all good things ; and for such the 
eternal day will break in a revelation of unspeakable glory. 
(5) Again, there are multitudes for whom this immediate 
perfection of blessedness cannot confidently be predicted. 
These are in a state of peace with God, inasmuch as, whether 
consciously or no, they are possessed of saving faith, and 
their lives as a whole move towards righteousness and 
truth. Nevertheless, they are not prepared to enter forth 
with into the full inheritance of the saints in light. There 
are others, also, who come to repentance only towards the 
end of their selfish and evil years, and never attain in this 
world to any elevation of spiritual or moral tone. Further, 
there are very many who have never had opportunity on earth 
to make the great decision, as well as great numbers whose 
responsibility has been limited by inheritance, evil surround 
ings, and physical defect. These all enter at death into a state 
which is, in varying degrees, one of education, development, 
and discipline. They do not experience retributive penalty or 
any of the evils of mortal life ; they are in a condition of 
salvation and of peace with God. But their spiritual powers 
must be strengthened, and their vision enlarged, before they 
can appreciate the harmonies, and discern the splendours, that 
God has reserved for them that love Him. 

(c) But, finally, there are those who have definitely made 
the supreme refusal, have identified their lives more or less 
completely with the principle of evil, and who pass impenitent 
and unconverted into the awful spaces of eternity. These 
experience the full weight of the forces of retribution which 

1 I.e. Greek and Roman, plus an increasing weight of Anglican, Lutheran, 
and Reformed opinion (c.y. Pusey, Domer, Salinond). 


dwell in the moral order and are its safeguards and avengers. 
This is the eternal fire ; the self-fulfilment of evil, the 
revelation of its true character, the full manifestation of its 
power to work misery and confusion. It is that horror of 
great darkness of which men have occasional glimpses in this 
world. It is that dreary sea of penal sorrow whose ominous 
voice is heard far up the stream of the evil life which moves 
toward it continually through all the windings of its course. 
This state of perdition may be described as " eternal," since it 
belongs to eternity, and since the moral history which leads to 
it remains a part of the indelible record of the soul. 

(2) But, in the second place, Christian thought inclines to 
assert that the history of the moral universe will end in a state 
of peace and harmony. This was the direct teaching of St. 
Paul ; it is involved in those predictions of the perfect triumph 
of Christ which the Church has never ceased to utter in all the 
ages ; it is the conviction which has produced the theories of 
universal salvation and of conditional immortality; and it 
has influenced, as we have seen, many of the greatest orthodox 
teachers, who have sought to state the traditional view in 
such a way as not to contradict belief in a final harmony of 
things. This belief, therefore, may be counted among those 
elements of religious thought which have shown persistent 
vitality, have tended to express themselves with increasing 
definiteness and force, and" so may be reckoned to possess the 
power of enduring life. 

(a) But, if this be so, theology has to face the problem of 
reconciling the doctrine of perdition with faith in an ultimate 
reconciliation of all things to God. And it seems evident that 
this task cannot be accomplished without some modification of 
the traditional belief in everlasting evil. Indeed, we have 
seen that the latter belief has been profoundly affected already 
by the pressure of various rational and moral forces. The 
idea that future punishment means an everlasting state of 
fixed and measureless misery, " an eternal petrifaction " of 
grief, with no movement in it for better or worse, may be 
said to have passed out of the sphere of scientific theology. 
The arguments against it are overwhelming. Apart from 


considerations which have been already stated, it is clear that 
perdition cannot be a final state. The condition of heavenly 
blessedness is final because it is the goal of redemption, 
the end of the moral process, the manifestation of reality. 
But perdition is contrary to the issue which is purposed of 
God, and is the fulfilment of all unreal and negative things. 
Therefore it cannot be ultimate, but must merge in something 
beyond. Only if this be so can its existence be justified as 
part of the rational universe. In such an universe nothing can 
remain which is not of itself a good, or does not serve a purpose 
of good. But a state of mere penalty cannot be said to be a 
good in itself ; nor can it serve a beneficent end if it endures 
for ever. The intention of punishment is to work righteous 
retribution, and to show the nature of sin in its final issues. 
But this is not an intention that requires endless time for its 
fulfilment. Finite sin does not demand an eternity for its 
self-revelation, nor can it merit perpetual pain. The purpose 
of perdition must sometime be achieved, and when this is 
accomplished it must cease, in so far at least as it is a state of 
positive suffering. The argument of Aquinas on this point is 
quite conclusive. 

(&) But, if this view be accepted, we have to ask what is 
likely to be the character of that state which lies beyond 
perdition ? If retributive suffering is to pass away, in what is it 
to issue ? Many, as we have seen, suppose that it will result 
either in the dissolution of personal life or else in the destruc 
tion of the moral nature ; and it may be admitted that either 
of these alternatives would, in some fashion, achieve the 
harmony of the spiritual universe. But both of these possi 
bilities are excluded for those who hold, in agreement with 
general Christian tradition, that the soul of man can neither 
be destroyed nor sink beneath the level of moral life. And so 
these are constrained to believe that perdition must resolve 
itself at last in some form of betterment, of reconciliation with 
God, of submission to His holy will declared in Jesus Christ. 
Those who accept this solution assert, or at least hope, that 
whensoever any soul has reached the state of submission ami 
repentance, penalty will cease to bear the aspect of mere 


retribution and become an agent of good, to discipline and 
develop, and lead upwards towards that abode of peace, 
without sin and without pain, which is called the City of God. 
(c) Of course, this view is open to the objection that it 
limits the freedom of the human will, inasmuch as it professes 
to be confident that all men will finally submit themselves to 
God. This is a difficulty which has been considered already 
in the chapter on Universal Restoration. But one may add 
here that we do not offend against the doctrine of moral 
liberty by affirming that every soul will come to repentance, 
any more than we do by the contrary statement that some 
men will always continue to sin. Indeed, this latter belief 
rests on the conviction that evil will go on always increasing 
its hold upon the will, and binding it with heavier and heavier 
chains, until the power of choosing good has been for ever lost. 
And it is difficult to see how those who maintain such a 
doctrine can plume themselves on being the champions of 
freedom. What they really contend for is not the power of 
the will to determine its own destiny, but the power of evil to 
make an end of liberty. Do we indeed infringe the prerogative 
of the spiritual creature by saying that it will conform at last 
to the nature of things, that experience of evil will teach it 
that good is best, and that the patience of God will bring it 
to repentance ? And do we exalt the attribute of freedom by 
affirming that, spite of the utter unreason of sin, spite of its 
bitter fruit, spite of the divine grace and the perseverance of 
Christ, sin will be able to establish a complete dominion over 
the soul and bind it to itself for ever ? Surely it is clear, also, 
that if God has any purpose at all for the human race, He 
must have kept the end of things in His own hands. There is 
no meaning in speaking of a purpose that does not reveal itself 
in the end that is attained. However wide the freedom of the 
will, and however much its action may achieve that is evil and 
contrary to the will of God, it cannot possess the power to 
compass moral anarchy or to prevent the consummation which 
eternal wisdom has in view. The divine intention which 
underlies the whole process of history goes on its way through 
all confusion and conflict, through all contingent and lawless 


things, towards an appointed End. That End is good ; and it 
will be attained not by the enslavement of the soul to any out 
ward law, but by such means of judgment and mercy as shall 
lead it to that willing obedience in which alone is freedom. 

(3) But, in the third place, Christian thought does 
persistently affirm belief in everlasting penalty, and is there 
fore likely to maintain the doctrine, that while perdition, 
in the fulness of its meaning, must pass away, something of it 
may remain spiritual privation, loss of the highest good. 
The idea that theology will come to adopt a perfectly 
optimistic view of ultimate destiny is one that has small 
sanction in the facts of history. It cannot be said that St. 
Paul's prophecies of an universal Kingdom of God require the 
conclusion that every trace of the results of sin shall utterly 
vanish away. Even Origen and Erigena admitted, in differing 
forms of thought, that some degree of penalty might remain. 
Also, the doctrine of Eternal Punishment has shown such power 
to survive the strongest attacks, as proves it the guardian of 
moral truth. A belief so unattractive to the heart and mind, 
and so beset with speculative difficulties, could never have 
maintained itself had it not expressed a premonition of the 
soul. There can be no doubt that the theory of Conditional 
Immortality owes its influence to the fact that it recognises 
this, and seeks to combine the hope of a final reconciliation 
with the assertion of everlasting penalty. Also, writers of the 
Universalist school tend to admit, with increasing frankness, 
that the Church has not been altogether wrong in refusing to 
adopt an unqualified form of optimism. No doubt there is a 
logical completeness in the assertion that " all the wounds of 
the spirit shall be healed, leaving not a scar behind"; no 
doubt it may be urged that if the soul cannot be destroyed 
neither can it suffer any permanent injury ; no doubt, also, 
belief in a final reconciliation of all things seems to involve the 
entire disappearance of every shadow of sin and every memory 
of regret. But Christian thought has never been, and never 
can be, under the sole dominion of logic. All its speculations 
are limited by the value which it attaches to the testimony of 
conscience ; and conscience does affirm the existence of an 


ultimate moral danger, does assert that there is such a thing as 
the irreparable and the too late. It is mainly this testimony 
which compels many to accompany the hope of a final state of 
universal peace with the admission that if the soul goes beyond 
a certain point in evil it renders itself subject to some measure 
of eternal disability and loss. 

This is, indeed, an admission that can only be made with 
the reserve that befits our ignorance, and with profound sorrow ; 

" For of all sad words of tongue or pen, 
The saddest are these : It might have been." 

Yet, how can we escape it ? Not to have known the life 
eternal under the conditions of mortal existence must surely 
mean that there will always be something wanting to the 
complete experience of the soul. Also, if any man becomes 
an heir of perdition, the memory of perdition will remain. 
Such an one, further, earns for himself separation at death 
from the fellowship of the faithful ; and this must be a matter 
of enduring regret. It is reasonable to suppose, also, that he 
may bring upon himself permanent inability to attain the 
higher forms of knowledge and of service. Dante, as you 
remember, describes the lower level of Paradise as a condition 
very like the outpost of the Inferno. And if we borrow his 
imagery, we may say that the soul that passes through the 
dark region of retributive "punishment, and through the fires 
of the place of cleansing, and attains at last to a state of 
reconciliation, may yet never pass beyond the lower degrees of 
blessedness. Such a destiny would not involve any positive 
defect of being, or any alienation from God. The soul would 
possess the secret of eternal peace, would reverently accept 
the limitations of knowledge and life which it had imposed 
upon itself under the immutable laws of the Almighty, and 
would be satisfied that there was room and place for it, 
however humble, in the Kingdom of a redeemed humanity. 
Though much might have been lost to it, there would remain 

" A sympathy august and pure, 
Ennobled by a vast regret, 
And by contrition sealed thrice sure," 


(a) Now, no one who might hold this doctrine of destiny 
could be accused of taking an easy view of the nature and 
consequences of sin. To say that he did would be to forget the 
burden of terror that lies in the thought of perdition. We 
know what dreadful possibilities of torment are latent in our 
physical frame, and we cannot doubt that similar capacity for 
suffering is hidden in the nature of the soul. Nor can we 
think lightly of the penalty that is called spiritual privation 
when we remember the pathos that was in the voice of Jesus 
when He spoke of " that which was lost." 

(b) But it may be said, on the other hand, that if we affirm 
anything in perdition to be everlasting we really assert the 
eternity of evil ; inasmuch as failure to attain the best is a form 
of evil, and its perpetual existence would mean the triumph 
of sin. And the formal force of this argument may be 
admitted. In effect, however, privation of the highest good 
is not so much evil as what Erigena called the " phantasm " of 
it. It is not sin ; it is not pain ; it is nothing that is able to 
render life less than a good and precious gift ; it involves no 
opposition to the will of God. Certainly, it is the result of 
moral disorder ; it is a subdued colour in the pattern of life, 
a minor note in its music ; and it would not have existed if 
man had never fallen, if evil had never been. This may be 
admitted. But then it is not possible on any theory to say 
that the final consummation will show no trace of the sin that 
was once in the world. If we say that the lost will suffer 
annihilation, we affirm that evil will have for its perpetual 
memorial a multitude of the slain, will leave its record in a 
graveyard of souls. Even if we assert absolute Universalism 
we must still admit that the nature of the End shall bear 
witness to the struggle and tragedy through which it has been 
reached. Nay, the very conception of heaven itself, as held 
by Christian faith, is the vision of a beatitude that bears the 
mark of the conflict that is past. The joy of Paradise is the 
joy of those who have known many sorrows ; its victory is 
that of soldiers who have suffered many defeats ; its purity is 
that of sinners who have washed their robes and made them 
white in the blood of Christ. Thus there will be even in 


perfect blessedness a memorial of evil; the walls of the 
heavenly City will witness to the travail which has built 
them ; and in the midst of the throne there will be a Lamb 
that has been slain. Unless the Cross passes utterly out of 
the memory of the soul, there will always remain a testimony 
in the universe to the power and the .curse of sin. And so it 
should not be urged against any theory that it admits the 
permanence of evil in the marks it leaves behind. Such 
admission, in some form, is a necessity of the case. 

(c) But, however this may be, one cannot allow that the 
view I have indicated would involve the defeat of the purpose of 
God in the creation of mankind. We may be sure that He 
cannot intend anything less than the destruction of sin and 
pain. Since He is good, He must be determined to destroy 
evil ; and since He is Love, He cannot have given to any 
creature an existence which He knew would prove a curse; 
nor can He be satisfied until He has reconciled all souls to 
Himself. Of this we may be confident. But there is no 
reason whatever for saying that God must have decreed that 
every one of His creatures shall attain to the highest good. It 
is altogether likely that He has granted to human freedom the 
utmost possible scope that is consistent with the nature of 
things and the essential goodness of life. And it is reasonable 
to believe that such a measure of freedom involves liability to 
surfer great and permanent loss. The moral life, as we know 
it, is fraught with adventure and compassed with peril ; it has 
wonderful depths and heights ; and the risks it presents are 
limited only by the purpose of God to redeem His creatures 
and to subdue all things unto Himself. Our knowledge of the 
universe does not encourage the thought that the Creator is 
unwilling to permit the existence of many different grades and 
orders of being. The Cosmos is one great system of rank and 
gradation, rising in level above level from the lowest form of 
life to the multitude of the heavenly host. God has not 
granted to us all an equal measure of gift or an equal wealth 
of understanding, and there are as many degrees of attainment 
and power in the moral as in the intellectual world. It is, 
therefore, without ground in reason or experience that we 


affirm the purpose of God to forbid the existence of many 
different levels of glory and power in His Kingdom of recon 
ciliation. Men may be found to have appointed themselves 
to varying degrees of spiritual rank and service, each finding 
his own place according to the fitness he has achieved. And 
it may be that this variety and inequality of attainment, 
though it be in a measure the result of sin, shall be so 
ordered by divine grace as to conduce to the harmony and 
beauty of things. We cannot tell how low some of the 
grades of life may be, any more than we can forecast the 
heights to which some may rise; but all will be found 
within the walls of redemption and within the bounds of 
the peace of God. 

Such, then, is a general statement of the type of doctrine 
which may be expected to result from the development of 
eschatological thought. No particular importance is to be 
attached to the terms in which it is expressed ;. nor is it, as I 
have said, to be mistaken for a purely speculative construction, 
or the mere utterance of an individual opinion. It is simply an 
endeavour to interpret the testimony of the New Testament 
and of the Christian Church in such a way as to exclude 
nothing in it that has shown abiding power, and to harmonise 
in some fashion its apparent contradictions. In other words, 
it is an attempt to indicate the nature of the problem which 
the theology of the future will be required to solve. No 
rational theory which claims to be a development of Christian 
thought can altogether reject any one of the great elements in 
the witness of the Church throughout the ages. It must 
accept these, in a broad catholic understanding of them, and 
seek to show that they are in their substance reasonable, and 
capable of being harmonised in the unity of faith. I have 
tried to indicate the main features of eschatological belief 
which may thus claim to be accepted as part of the historic 
witness the threefold doctrine of immediate destiny; the 
foreboding of judgment and perdition : and the hope of the 
final triumph of Christ in an universal Kingdom of peace. 
These are persistent and assured features of traditional doctrine ; 


and the theology of the future will have to recognise them as 
essentially true, in their substance as distinguished from their 
varying forms. But, having done this, it will have to consider 
how these things are all to be justified as elements in a 
reasonable belief, and shown to be parts of one harmonious 
whole. And, in fulfilling this portion of its task, it will be 
compelled to take for its guide that great assertion which is 
the distinctive glory of the Gospel, the assertion of God's 
redeeming purpose for all mankind through Jesus Christ His 
Son. It will have to prove that the doctrine of future retribu 
tion can be so conceived as not to contradict the sovereignty 
of grace. It will be constrained to vindicate the witness of 
conscience and of Scripture to the reality of perdition ; and 
yet to interpret that witness in such a way as not to weaken 
or attenuate tbe supreme message of Revelation, which is that 
it is the good purpose of the Father to reconcile all things to 
Himself, through the ministries of the Spirit, through the 
terrors of the Judgment, through the blood of the Cross. 



1. Two types of thought. When we turn^to the positive 
aspect of the Christian belief in Immortality the doctrine of 
heavenly blessedness we find ourselves in a region of general 
agreement. Also, we return to a sphere of thought which has 
been coloured always by the old imaginative forms, and has 
owed its concrete imagery to the ancient presentations of the 
Kingdom of God. The common type of Christian faith has 
generally conceived the life to come as an endless existence in 
time, an everlasting succession of blessed experiences. But 
there has existed, along with this, a form of belief which has 
thought of eternal life as a spiritual quality of being, a state 
of mind so elevated, so possessed with devout emotion, as to 
be independent of time, above the ttux of temporal things, 
enjoying even in this present world the peace and joy of 


abiding communion with God. This latter is the mystical 
type of the Christian hope. It is not to be sharply dis 
tinguished from the more general form of belief ; since its 
influence is manifest in all profoundly religious minds. But it 
has sometimes been developed so far as to deny that there will 
be any movement or change in the heavenly life, and even to 
approach the idea of absorption in the infinite. 

Both of these types of thought are found in the New 
Testament, though some of its books emphasise the one and 
some the other. The teaching of Jesus, of St. Paul, and of St. 
John, combine the imaginative and mystical forms of faith in 
life eternal. Even the Book of Revelation shows the same 
characteristic. It expresses the substance of the mystical 
doctrine in the decree that " there should be time no longer " ; l 
but its conception as a whole is concrete, and takes its colour 
from the things of this temporal world. And so it is through 
out the sacred writings. The thought of the life to come 
is expressed in terms of the Kingdom of God; and thus 
it is mainly presented in the form of a shining hope, 
although it is recognised that the substance and secret of 
eternal blessedness is already the possession of all believers. 
Also, it is prefigured in such symbolism as belongs to the 
vision of a terrestrial state, freed from all that is cor 
ruptible and defiled, and containing the fulfilment of every 
earthly good. 

2. The Apocalyptic tradition. And later Christian thought 
has remained faithful to the New Testament tradition. 
It has not been unmindful of St. John's teaching, nor ever 
ceased to believe that eternal life is attainable in this present 
world ; but it has dwelt mainly on the idea of a world blessed 
and everlasting which we hope to attain beyond the gates of 
death. It has cherished the promise of something that is to 
come, " afar from the sphere of our sorrow." It has believed 
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, 
and that this mortal must put on immortality before it 
can attain to the heart's desire. And it has continued to 
invest the thought of the future State with a garment of 

1 Rev. 10 6 . 


glory that is coloured with the hues of ancient prophetic 
symbol. 1 

Now this symbolic imagery of the Christian tradition, as 
embodied, for instance, in the Book of Revelation, has been 
made the subject of much derisive comment. A recent writer 
speaks of the " bric-a-brac heaven of St. John " ; and many 
modern authors seem to object to the idea of the angels and 
the archangels and all the heavenly host. A good deal of 
contempt, also, is expressed for the old pictures of the New 
Jerusalem the white robes, the palms of victory, the choirs 
of everlasting praise, the golden streets and the gates of pearl, 
the tree of life and the fountains of living waters. But all 
this criticism is external and unsympathetic, the foolishness of 
the wise, the unintelligence of intellectuality. St. John and 
the other prophets of his kind were no such childish literalists 
as their censors suppose them to have been. A writer capable 
of such profound sayings as " the Lamb slain from the founda 
tion of the world " was quite able to distinguish form from 
substance, and to perceive the spiritual meanings of his own 
symbolism. These pictures of St. John signify victory, peace, 
consolation, worship, knowledge, and the fulness of perfect 
being. And no modern writer has ever been able to suggest 
imagery that can take their place to offer us anything in 
their stead but barren abstractions, and chilly assertions of 
ignorance, which do nothing but empty the future of all 
reality and all attraction for wistful human souls. The 
apocalyptic imagery of future blessedness, like the apocalyptic 
forms of belief, is consecrated by immemorial tradition ; it is 
the fruit of history ; and it has a message for the simplest 
mind as well as for the wise and understanding. It is vivid ; 
it is fraught with plain spiritual meanings ; it appeals to 
tender human emotions; and it is the symbol of a high 
romance. For all these reasons it has endured, and is likely 
to endure unto the end. 

3. The mystical form of belief. (a) We do not, however, 
attain to a full conception of the Christian hope unless we 

1 Cf. Dante, Paradiso ; Augustine, City of God, xxii. 29, 30 ; ii Kempis, 
Imitation of Christ. 


recognise, not only this concrete pictorial form of belief, but 
also that mystical type of thought which likewise has its 
origin in the New Testament witness. The mystical mind has 
always tended to dwell on the vision of God as a thing attain 
able in this present state, to minimise the opposition between 
time and eternity, and the contrast between this life and that 
which is to come. Thus Jacob Boehme wrote in the album of 
a friend the famous and characteristic lines : 

"When time is as eternity, 
Eternity as time to thee, 
From strife of all kinds thou art free." 

Or, as they are quaintly rendered by the original translator of 
Boehme's great work into English : 

"Unto that man whose Time and Ever 
Is all the same and all together ; 
His battle's done, his strife is ended, 
His soul is safe, his life amended." 1 

This saying is a memorable expression of the type of piety 
which Boehme represents. It always dislikes any insistence 
on the temporal side of religious experience. Faith is com 
munion with the Eternal One, and according to the measure of 
its perfection raises the soul above time, and secures it in the 
possession of a state of peace to which all change, even death 
itself, is indifferent or irrelevant. This is an idea that is 
familiar to the students of Frederick Denison Maurice, and it 
is illustrated for us by the passage in Newman's Grammar of 
Assent, in which he speaks of the monk who, " going out into 
the wood to meditate, was detained there by the song of a bird 
for three hundred years, which to his consciousness passed as 
only one hour." " The song of the bird that the monk heard, 
without taking note of the passage of time, might have been, 
' And they shall reign for ever and ever ' ; though of the many 
thousand times of the bird's repeating the words, they sounded 
in the monk's ear but one song, once sung." Mystical religion 
makes much of this timeless strain in our experience these 
hours when, under the influence of high emotion or access of 

1 Mysterium Magnum, Eng. edit. 1654. 


thought, lapsing moments are forgotten, cease to be, are lost in 
the tide of the soul's intenser life. And it finds in these lofty 
experiences " sweet forewarnings " of the state of final blessed 
ness, wherein men shall enjoy an existence in which time is 
brought to nothingness by the supreme emotion and enraptured 
vision of eternal life. 

This thought, that future blessedness is a timeless state 
of being, has been expressed by poets and bhinkers of every 
age. It was implicit in Plato's understanding of the term 
" eternal," which generally signifies, in his writings, not so 
much endless duration as a quality of life. We have seen that 
St. John embodies it in the saying, " there should be time no 
longer." And the author of the Secrets of Enoch says, in like 
manner, "There all time shall perish, and the years, and 
thenceforward there shall be neither days nor months nor 
hours." But the classical literary expression of this thought is 
found in the closing lines of Spenser's Faerie Queen : l 

"Then gin I thinke on that which Nature sayd 
Of that same time when no more Change shall be, 
But stedfast rest of all things, firmely stayd 
Upon the pillours of eternity, 
That is con tray r to Mutabilitie ; 
For all that moveth doth in Change delight : 
But thenceforth all shall rest eternally 
With Him that is the Gad of Sabaoth hight : 
Oh ! that great Sabaoth God, grant me that Sabaoth's sight." 

Now, one can have no doubt as to the truth of this mystical 
doctrine of eternal life as a religious affirmation. It rests on 
realities of experience and intuitions of the soul, and it 
expresses that longing to be free of the change and instability 
and insecurity of things, and the wearying succession of " the 
slow, sad hours," which is an enduring instinct of faith. But 
when it is translated from terms of religion into forms of 
philosophy, when it becomes the assertion that the soul will 
actually pass into a mode of existence that is above time, that 
has no past arid no future and no movement, it goes beyond 
the limits of Christian thought and approaches perilously near 

1 Globe edition, p. 436. 



to the idea that personal life will be utterly merged in the 
ocean of absolute Being. Indeed, some writers go so far as to 
assert that the consummation of heavenly experience will be 
the loss of individual consciousness ; companion souls who 
have attained together the supreme height of beatitude will 
clasp hands on the mountain top and say, " Farewell, we lose 
ourselves in light." l 

When we speak in this way, however, we are not only 
exceeding the limits of Christian faith, we are also deceiving 
ourselves with imaginative terms which correspond to no 
experience of ours, and express nothing that has definite 
meaning for our minds. The notion of being " absorbed in the 
Infinite," of attaining some supra-personal state of being, is 
not an idea that can appear reasonable to any one who holds 
the Christian doctrine of God. How can we attain imperson 
ality by union with a personal Spirit ? Is it not evident that 
the closer our fellowship with such an One becomes, the more 
shall we fulfil the conception of personality ? We may ask, 
also, how a moral life that tends to ever fuller self-realisation 
can end in the loss of self ? Has not our Lord said that who 
soever will lose his life shall keep it unto life eternal ? How 
is it possible to conceive of a time when the soul that has 
followed after the ideal good shall say, " I have completed my 
last moral action ; henceforth I become nothing." How can 
we even picture the future of the child of God as ending 
suddenly, like a road that drops into a gulf ? Nay, the very 
thought of a timeless state of existence is the symbol of some 
thing lower, and not higher, than our present life. Succession, 
a before and an after, is an essential characteristic of spiritual 
being. Without it there can be no progress, no service, no 
fellowship with kindred souls, no hope and no memory. To 
think of the future state as without these things is to deny 
that it has any attribute of life, as life is known to us here. 
It is really to assert that existence, such as we have experi 
enced or can imagine, ends at death. 2 

1 Tennyson, In Memoriam ; see, also, Shelley's Adowiis. 
3 For full discussion of this subject see von Huge], Eternal Life ; Maurice, 
Theological Essayt ; Mellone, Eternal Life Here and Hereafter, p. 250 ff. 


But why should we revolt against the thought of living 
for ever under temporal conditions ? Why should we count it 
desirable to escape from the realm of change ? There is no 
evil in succession, if it be a succession of blessed hours. It is 
only in moods of fatigue and weakness that we long for release 
from the world of the rising and setting suns. It is only to 
the wearied eyes that the monotone is dear. For the normal 
heart and mind, it is a pleasant thing to believe that good will 
ever give place to good, and knowledge to knowledge, and 
service to service. What we really seek, in our thoughts of 
everlasting life, is a timeless emotion and rest of soul, not a 
timeless existence. What the spirit of man truly desires is 
conformity, within its own measure, to that law which dwells 
in the being of God. We know that He is the Eternal One, 
transcending all mutability and all the things that come and 
go, and yet is within the realm of the temporal and fleeting, in 
so far as He shares in the life of the universe. We believe 
that He rests for ever, self-centred and alone, yet continually 
fulfils Himself in His manifold creation and His ministries of 
grace. And so we hold it true that the immortals who reflect 
His glory and bear His image inhabit eternity, and remain in 
time. Theirs is a state which, in the inmost heart and secret 
of it, is above all flux, all evanescence and decay ; but, also, 
it is a state wherein they remember and hope, and labour 
harmoniously in the tireless" service of their brethren and of 

Thus there remain two elements in the Christian hope of 
life everlasting, the one resting on the mystical side of faith, 
the other derived from the ancient belief in the Kingdom of 
God. These present the appearance of a logical opposition, 
but they are really only different aspects of one transcendent 
truth. Immortal blessedness is the beatific vision of God, 
direct, immediate, perfect ; but it is also a continuous growth 
in the understanding of things both human and divine it is 
" to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." It is 
rest and peace beyond what we are able to ask or to think ; 
and it is the constant doing of the holy will of God. It is 


final and complete; nevertheless it is unceasing movement 
towards an end which, when it is reached, is seen to be only a 
beginning. It dwells with the Father of lights, with whom is 
no variableness nor shadow of turning, but it is more changeful 
than the passing years, and of a richer variety than the light 
and colour and form of this our manifold world. In it men 
see face to face and know even as also they are known ; none 
the less, there abide in it faith and hope and love. The com 
pany of the redeemed, as Dante tells us, shines like a great 
white rose unfolding itself petal upon petal in the presence of 
the glory of God ; and this unfolding of the splendours of the 
soul is accomplished through obedience to that perfect law of 
love which is the law of life eternal. 

"But, as moved evenly a wheel appears, 
So ray desire, and will, now swayed aright 
The Love, that moves the sun and other stars." 



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" The Anointed of the Lord " " The Son of Man " " The King " 
"He shall open the gates of Paradise" "Priest," "Prophet," 
"Judge" "Mediator" "Destroyer" "Sinless, and Holy One" 1 

O.T. references Isa. 9 6 - 7 32 1 - 2 42 1 ' 3 52 13 53 12 etc. 


" Quakings of places ; tumults of people ; confusion of leaders ; the 
foundations of the earth shall tremble and be shaken. The trumpet 
shall sound. The earth shall be stricken with fear." " The Heavenly 
One will arise from His royal throne, and come forth from His holy 
habitation, with indignation and wrath for His sons. And earth will 
tremble to its utmost bounds, and the high mountains be brought low 
and the forests fall. The sun will not give light, and the horns of the 
moon will become dark ; they will be broken, and it all will be turned 
into blood, and the circle of the stars will be shattered. The seas will 
sink into the abyss, the fountains of water will fail, and the rivers will 
be afraid: for the Most High will arise, the Eternal God alone" 
(4 Ezra 9 3 -6 14 - 24 , Ass. Moses 10 3 ' 7 ). 

" And behold ! He cometh with ten thousand of His holy ones " 
(En. P). 

"Now that lightning shone exceedingly so as to illuminate the 
whole earth " (Apoc. Bar. 53 9 ). 

O.T. references Isa. 13 6 ' 13 , Joel 2 1 11 etc. 

1 For references see preceding Table. 





"The Christ, the Son of the living God." "The Son of Man." 
" The King." " I have the keys of death and of Hades." " The Son 
of Man is come not to be ministered unto but to minister." " A priest 
forever." " Without sin " (Matt. 17 13 ' 16 25 34 20 28 , Rev. I 18 , Heb. 4 15 
5 6 ). 



" And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not 
troubled : for such things nmst needs be ; but the end shall not be yet. 
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom ; and 
there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines 
and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. . . . For in those 
days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the 
creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. ... But 
take ye heed : behold, I have foretold you all things. . . . But in those 
days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon 
shall not give her light. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the 
powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. . . . And then shall they 
see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 
And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect 
from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the utter 
most part of heaven. . . . For as the lightning cometh out of the east 
and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man 
be" (Mark 13 6 ' 8 - 19 - 24 - 27 , Matt. 24 27 ). 







" Then shall ye see Enoch, Noah, and Shem, and Abraham, Isaac 
and Jacob, rising on the right hand in gladness." ..." They that fear 
the Lord shall rise to life eternal." ..." All who have fallen asleep 
in hope of Him shall rise again" (Test. Benj. 10 r " 8 , Apoc. Bar. 30 2 ). 

" The earth shall assuredly restore the dead. ... As it has received, 
so shall it restore them. . . . For it will be necessary to show to the 
living that the dead have come to life again. . . . Then shall the aspect 
of those who are condemned be afterwards changed, and the glory of 
those who are justified. . . . The glory of those who have been justified 
in My law shall be glorified in changes . . . that they may be able to 
acquire and receive the world which does not die " (Apoc. Bar. 50 2 -51 3 ). 

O.T. references Ps. 16 9 ' 11 , Isa. 26 19 , Ezek. 37 1 ' 14 , Dan. 12 2 etc. 


"Then also all men shall rise, some unto glory and some unto 
shame." "And in those days shall the earth also give back that which 
has been entrusted to it, and Sheol also shall give back that which it 
had received" (Test. Benj. 10 8 , En. 51 1 ). 





"lam the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth on Me, 
though he die, yet shall he live : and whosoever liveth and believeth in 
Me shall never die " (John II 25 - 2C ). 

" Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the 
kingdom of God ; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, 
I show you a mystery ; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump : for the 
trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we 
shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and 
this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall 
have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, 
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is 
swallowed up in victory." ..." For we know that if our earthly house 
of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house 
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, 
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from 
heaven : if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For 
we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened : not for that 
we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be 
swallowed up of life" (1 Cor. 16 51 " 54 , 2 Cor. 5 1 - 4 ). 


"The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall 
hear His voice, and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto 
the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resur 
rection of judgment " (John 5 28 - 29 ). 

" And the sea gave up the dead which were in it ; and Death and 
Hades gave up the dead which were in them " (Rev. 20 13 ). 





" The judgment of the lofty One who has no respect of persons." 
" He will judge the great according to his greatness, and the small 
according to his smallness, and each according to his way" (Bar. 13 8 , 
Jub. 5 16 ). 

O.T. references Mai. 3 1 ' 3 18 - 18 , Isa. 26 21 , Ps. 96 18 etc. 


" The Lord of Spirits seated the Elect One on the throne of His 
glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out before Him. . . . 
And there will stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty and 
the exalted and those who hold the earth, and they will see and 
recognise Him how He sits on the throne of His glory and righteousness 
is judged before Him and no lying word is spoken before Him . . . and 
one portion of them will look on the other and they will be terrified, 
and their countenance will fall and pain will seize them when they see 
that Son of Man sitting on the throne of His glory, . . . and all the elect 
will stand before Him on that day. And all the kings and the mighty 
. . . will supplicate for mercy at His hand. Nevertheless . . . the 
angels of punishment will take them in charge to execute vengeance 
upon them, because they have oppressed His children and His elect. 
And they will be a spectacle for the righteous and for His elect, . . . 
and the righteous and the elect will be saved on that day . . . and the 
Lord of Spirits will abide over them and with that Son of Man will 
they eat and lie down and rise up for ever and ever." 1 

"And there is nothing in heaven or on earth, or in light or in 
darkness, or in Sheol, that is not judged " (Jub. 5 14 ). 

1 Burkitt's shortened version of Judgment scene in En. 62. 





"But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak 
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12 36 ). 

" For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ " 
(2 Cor. 5 10 ). 


" And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from 
whose face the earth and the heaven fled away ; and there was found 
no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before 
God : and the books were opened ; and another book was opened, which is 
the book of life ; and the dead were judged out of those things which 
were written in the books, according to their works " (Rev. 20 11 - 12 ). 

" When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the angels 
with Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory : and before Him 
shall be gathered all the nations ; and He shall separate them as the 
shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats : and He shall set the sheep 
on His right hand and the goats on His left. Then shall the King say 
unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit 
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I 
was hungry, and ye gave Me meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink ; 
I was a stranger, and ye took Me in : naked, and ye clothed Me : sick and 
ye visited me, in prison and ye came unto Me," etc. (Matt. 25 31 ' 46 ). 

" There is nothing covered up that shall not be revealed, and hid 
that shall not be known " (Mark 4 22 ). 





JUDGMENT Continued. 


" The Son of Man " ; " He cometh with ten thousand of His holy 
ones," "The holy angels." "They shall see that Son of Man seated on 
the throne of His glory." 

" And then shall He judge all the Gentiles" (Test. Benj. 10). 

" And He shall choose the righteous and holy from among them " 
(En. 51 2 ). 

"Rising on the right hand in gladness" (Test. Benj. 10 6 ). 

" The righteous shall all be blessed " (En. I 8 ). 

"Inherit eternal life"; "for each one there is a place prepared" 
(En. 40 9 , Sec. of En. 49 2 ). 

" I was beset with hunger, and the Lord Himself nourished me. 
I was alone, and God comforted me : 
I was sick, and the Lord visited me : 

I was in prison, and my God showed favour unto me" (Test. 
Jos. I 5 - 6 ). 

" The godless shall be driven from the presence of the righteous." 

"Ye sinners shall be cursed for ever" (En. 38 3 102 3 ). 

" Eternal fire " " prepared for the hosts of Azazel." 

"Eternal punishment," "eternal life" (Test. Zeb. 10 s , En. 54 s ). 

Note. References not given here are to be found in preceding 
pages, or in Appendix I. In Test. Benj. 10 6 "the right hand," of 
course, implies " the left." 




JUDGMENT Continued. 


" When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the holy 
angels with Him," etc. 

" And before Him shall be gathered all nations." 
" And He shall separate them," etc. 

" On His right hand, ... on the left." 

"Ye blessed of My Father." 

" Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you." 

" For I was an hungered," etc. 

" Depart from Me, ye cursed. " 

" Eternal lire, prepared for the devil and his angels." 
" Eternal punishment," " eternal life." 





"Though the righteous sleep a long sleep, yet shall they have nought 
to fear." "The righteous shall arise out of sleep" (En. 100 5 91 10 ). 

O.T. references Isa. H 9 " 20 , Job 3 17 ' 19 10 19 ' 22 17 13 ' 16 etc. 


" Here their spirits shall be . . . in great pain until the great day 
of judgment " (En. 22 11 ). 


" Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shall receive us." " And Paradise is 
between corruptibility and incorruptibility . . . and every place is 
blessed. . . . This place is prepared for the righteous " (4 Mace. 13 17 , 
Sec. ofEn.8*-V). 


" Wherefore Judas made a propitiation for the dead, that they 
might be delivered from sin " (2 Mace. 12 45 ). 

" Then Seth saw the hand of God stretched out holding Adam, and 
he handed him over to Michael, saying : Let him be in thy charge till 
the day of judgment in punishment till the last years, when I will 
convert his sorrow into joy. Then shall he sit on the throne of him 
who hath been his supplanter" (Books of Adam and Eve (V.A.E.) 
48 1 ' 3 ). 

" And death is hidden, Hades fled away " (4 Ezra 8 63 ). 

For further references see preceding Table. 






"Sleep in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4 14 ). "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth " 
(John II 11 ). 

"In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment" (Luke 16 23 ). 


"And the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into, 
Abraham's bosom." " Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.' 
"To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 16 22 , Rev. 14 13 . 
Luke 23 4S ). 


"Christ . . . being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the 
spirit : in which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison. 
. . . For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that 
they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according 
to God in the spirit" (1 Pet. 3 18 - 19 4 6 ). 

"What shall they do who are baptized for the dead?" (1 Cor. 15 29 ). 

"I have the keys of Deatb and of Hades" (Rev. I 18 ). 

" And death and Hades were cast into the lake of firo " (Rev. 20 14 ). 




" As straw in fire shall they burn before the face of the holy and no 
trace of them shall any more be found " ..." in blazing flames burning 
worse than fire shall you burn." . . . "Darkness and unillumined 
gloom." . . . "The voice of crying and lamentation and weeping." . . . 
" There shall be the spectacle of righteous judgement, in the presence of 
the righteous for ever" (En. 48 9 100 9 , Sec. of En. 10 2 , En. 108 6 - 27 s ). 

O.T. references Ps. 9 17 , Isa. 30 83 34 8 ' 10 66 24 , Dent. S2 22 etc. 



"And in those days the children shall begin ... to seek the 
commandments. And their days shall begin to grow many . . . and 
all their days shall they complete and live in peace and joy " 
(Jul>. 23 20 - 29 ). 


" And all the children of men shall become righteous and shall offer 
adoration, and shall honour Me and shall worship Me. And the earth 
shall be cleansed from all defilement and from all sin, and from all 
punishment and from all torment" (En. 10 16 ' 2 -, cf. also En. 25). 


" And it shall come to pass after all these things, when the time of 
the advent of the Messiah is fulfilled, that He shall return in glory " 
(Apoc. Bar. 30 1 ). 


" And I will transform the heaven and make it an eternal blessing 
and light; and I will transform the earth and make it a blessing" 
(En. 45 5 ). 




" He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." "The eternal 
fire prepared for the devil and his angels." " Where their worm dieth 
not, and their lire is not quenched." "The outer darkness" . . . 
" There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." " And he shall be 
tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels 
and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of his torment 
ascendeth up for ever and ever " (Matt. 3 12 25 41 , Mark 9 44 , Matt. 22 13 , 
Rev. 14 10 ). 



" The Kingdom of Heaven is as leaven which a woman took and hid 
in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened " (Matt. 1 3 3S ). 
"The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17 20 ). 


" Then shall ye sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of 
Israel." " Many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down 
with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom." "Thy will be 
done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 19 28 8 11 6 10 ). 


"Then shall the Son also Himself be subjected to Him that did 
subject all things unto Him, that God may be all in all " (1 Cor. 15 28 ). 


"We look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth 
righteousness " (2 Pet. 3 13 ), 




" The world which does not die." " Then all time shall perish and 
the years, and henceforward there shall be neither months nor days nor 
hours." "Eternal life." "Ye shall have great joy as the angels" 
(Apoc. Bar. 51 8 , Sec. of En. 65 7 , Test, of Asher 5 3 , En. 10 10 104 5 ). 

O.T. references Zech. 9 8 ' 12 , Mic. 5 2 ' 4 , Isa. II 1 - 40 9 ' 11 60-65 17 ' 25 etc. 


" For you is opened Paradise, planted the Tree of life ; the future 
Age prepared, plenteousness made ready ; a City builded, a Kest 
appointed ; good works established, wisdom reconstituted ; the evil root 
is sealed up from you, infirmity from your path extinguished ; And 
Death is hidden, Hades fled away ; Corruption forgotten, sorrows past 
away ; and in the end the treasures of immortality are made manifest" 

" And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees. . . . And in the midst of 
the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests when He 
goes up into Paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and 
fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing ; and on all sides 
it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and 
it has produce from all fruits. Its root is in the garden at the earth's 
end. . . . And here there is no unfruitful tree, and every place is 
blessed. And there are three hundred angels very bright, who keep the 
garden, and with incessant sweet singing and never-silent voices serve 
the Lord throughout all days and hours " (4 Ez. 52-54, 2 En. 8). 
See also Apoc. Bar. 51 10 , En. 90 28 - 48 . 

Note. This statement is, of course, far from complete. It aims only 
at giving one or two examples under each heading. The quotations 
from the Jewish literature are, for the most part, taken from the 
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, edited by 
Dr. Charles. 

On Jewish books, cf. also Charles, Book of Enoch, Apocalypse of 
Baruch ; Volz, Judische Eschatologie ; Moffatt, Expos. Greek Test. Reve 
lation of St. John Dean, Booh <>{ Revelation ; Burkitt, Jeunsh and 
Christian Apocalypses, etc, 





" An inheritance . . . reserved in heaven," " the heavenly Jerusalem," 
"an heavenly country." "They that are accounted worthy to attain 
unto that world . . . are equal unto the Angels." "There shall be 
time no longer." " Eternal life " (1 Pet. I 4 , Heb. 12 2? 1 1 16 , Luke 20 35 - 36 , 
Rev. 10 6 , Matt. 25 46 etc.). 


" And I saw a new heaven and a new earth : for the first heaven 
and the first earth are passed away ; and the sea is no more. And I 
saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from 
God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a 
great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is 
with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His peoples, 
and God Himself shall be Avith them, and be their God : and He shall 
wipe away every tear from their eyes ; and death shall be no more ; 
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more : the 
first things are passed away" (Rev. 2 1 1 " 4 ). 

" They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall 
the sun strike upon them, nor any heat : for the Lamb which is in the 
midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto 
fountains of waters of life : and God shall wipe away every tear from 
their eyes "(Rev. 7 16 - 17 ). 



(cuomos, aionios.) 


DOBNBR. " By no means denotes everywhere endless duration." 
Applied to punishment, it denotes " a duration of immeasurable length, 
but not an eternity of duration" (Christian Doctrine, iv. p. 419). Also 
ST ANTON (Jemsh and Christian Messiah, p. 342). 

PLUMPTRE. Its "received connotation" is "indefinite duration," 
" in every book of the New Testament, except the writing of St. John " 
(Spirits in Prison, p. 366). So also SAIMOND (Christian Doctrine of 
Immortality, pp. 516-517). 

STEVENS.- " Aeonios means pertaining to an age, age-long. It no 
more means endless (necessarily) than aeon means eternity " (Christian 
Doctrine of Salvation, p. 526). So also KINGSLBY (quoted by Cox, 
Salvator Mundi, p. 122) ; FARRAR (Eternal Hope, p. 78). 

Cox. " Aeonial life means life in Christ, the spiritual life distinctive 
of the Christian Aeons ; and aeonial punishment is the discipline, the 
punishment, distinctive of the Christian Aeons " (Salvator Afundi, 
p. 140). 

CHEYNE. " Eternal means in Synoptics and New Testament gener 
ally (1) endless, (2) Messianic." In St. John, " the life which is life 

indeed " (Eneyc. Bib., art. Eternity and Eternal, sec. 4). 



CHARLES, in his Book of Enoch, repeatedly shows the variable and 
uncertain meaning of the word aeonios (p. 72). But he evidently holds 
that, as applied to punishment in the New Testament, it means " un 
ending," since he says, " Punishment is generally conceived in the 
Gospels as everlasting" (Encyc. Bib., art. Eschatology). So also GOTJL- 
BURN (Everlasting Punishment, pp. 82-88); HAUSRATH (N.T. Times, 
ii. 238) ; WENDT (Teaching of Jems, ii. 88). 

BRUCE (Exp. Greek Test., vol. i. p. 396). "Strict meaning is age 
long, not everlasting." 

JUKES. " This word describes not the quantity or duration, but the 
quality, of that of which it is predicated" (Restitution, etc., p. 129) ; cf. 
also DE QUINCEY (in Theological Essays). 

BLACKIE. "Does not signify eternity absolutely and metaphysically, 
but only popularly " (Nat. Hist, of Ath., p. 207). 

TAYLER LEWIS. " In Matt. 25 4C it would be in accordance with 
etymological usage to give it the sense of olamic or aeonic, or to regard 
it as denoting, like the Jewish olam hdbba, ' the world to come ' 
' These shall go away into the punishment of the world to come, and 
these into the life of the world to come.' And so it is in the old Syriac 
Version, where the rendering is still more unmistakably clear. These 
shall go away to the pain of the olam and these to the life of the olam 
(olam signifies age or world to come) " (Notes on Lange's Ecclesiastes, I 3 ). 

PUSEY. " It means endless, within the sphere of its own existence" 
(Everlasting Punishment, p. 38 IF.). 

WESTCOTT. " Eternal life is not an endless duration of being in 
time, but being of which time is not a measure (Epistles of St. John, 
p. 215). So also MAURICE (Theological Essays, pp. 447-450). Also 
ERSKINE of Linlathen (Life and Letters, p. 425). 

H. A. A. KENNEDY holds that " eternal," when applied to doom, in 
the N.T. means " everlasting " " The evidence . . . tells completely 
against the modern hypothesis" (St. Paul's Conceptions, etc., p. 316). 

H. R. MACKINTOSH. " Attempts ... to evacuate the word 
' eternal ' of its natural meaning have come to nothing " (Immortality 
and the Future, p. 204). 



These quotations are only a few out of many that might be given. 
But they may suffice for illustration. Where such difference of opinion 
exists among competent scholars, there must be room for doubt. If the 
N.T. writers had used the word aTeAeimjros when they meant to signify 
" without end," much trouble might have been spared. The Emperor 
Justinian, in his declaration against Origen, added ateleutetos to aeonios, 
to make it clear that he meant endless. But vagueness and variety 
of meaning attaches in all languages to this phraseology. Thus, in 
English, we speak colloquially of " eternal worry," etc. ; in legal docu 
ments property is assigned to a man " and to his heirs for ever " ; 
Stevenson uses the phrase, " the endless song was ended at last " ; Carlyle, 
"an everlasting barren simper"; Blake writes, "eternity in an hour"; 
Shakespeare speaks of " Brass eternal, prey to mortal rage " ; philosophers 
mean by eternal, " without beginning or end " ; orthodox theologians 
have in mind true eternity when they speak of the Eternal God, but 
unending duration when they say " eternal punishment." Thus the 
English use of this phraseology corresponds in variety to the Greek. 


Aeon (aiojv) in Ionic usage signified a " lifetime " or " time " ; but it 
had acquired solemnity of meaning from poetic association. Hence, 
Plato found it the most suitable word to express his idea of true eternity 
that which is without beginning or end or succession. 

He probably coined the adjective cuwvios to correspond to the 
particular sense he gave to the noun. Aeonios commonly means, in his 
writings, not indefinite continuance of time, but that which is above 
time or is its metaphysical opposite. A eonios occurs in three passages, all 
in the later Dialogues. 

1. Republic (ii. c. 6). Here we are told that certain poets deem 
"eternal intoxication (iuQr)v alwvtov) to be the best reward of virtue" in 
Hades. " Aeonian " here means " unending," but in a popular and 
ironic sense. 

2. Laws (x. c. 12) : "Both soul and body are a thing indestructible 
(uvwAeflpov) yet not eternal (aiwVtoi/) like the g< ids, existing according to 
law." Aeonian here cannot denote true eternity, since it is applied to 
the gods as distinguished from the soul of man. Plato's doctrine is 


that the soul is a thing deathless and indestructible ( <u 
avtaXeOpov) by nature truly eternal, without beginning or end. The 
gods, on the other hand, are created beings, not deathless by nature, but 
secured against death by a special decree of their Maker. Aeonian thus 
connotes " deathless existence according to law " the life of mortal 
beings secured from flux and change and decay by the direct exercise of 
divine power. It describes a state or quality of being peculiar to the 
gods not endless life, uor life limited in duration, but one that is above 
time, in so far as time means age and corruption. This use of the term 
aeonian thus approximates intellectually to the Johannine. 

3. But the classic passage is in the Timaeus (sec. x. in Greek 
edition, Herrmann's ; sees, xiii., xiv., Bohn's trans.). 

The universe, body and soul, is a created image of the eternal (dtSios) 
gods. Having a body and soul, and thus being alive, it is called an 
" eternal (auSios) animal." The nature (<u<ris) of this living universe is 
" eternal " (aiwi/tos), and therefore " could not be entirely adopted into 
anything subject to generation " (ye'vecris). Hence God resolved to 
create " a movable image of eternity " (aiwv). He " out of that eternity 
which rests in unity formed an eternal (cuomos) image." This image, or 
imitation of eternity is Time. Time, like the universe, is itself perishable : 
for these " may together be dissolved." But it is formed on the model 
of an eternal (auovtos) nature. This aeonian model on which Time is 
formed "exists through all eternity." But the thing formed on it 
"'exists through all time." 

In this passage the term aeonios, as nearly as possible, connotes true 
metaphysical eternity. Time is, indeed, called "an aeonian image." 
But context shows that this means an image made on an aeonian model. 
The whole reasoning throughout shows that the aeonian model belongs 
to that eternity which " is the same and indivisible ; neither becomes at 
any time older nor younger ; neither has been generated in the past nor 
will be in the future." 

Plato thus means by aeonian (1) "everlasting," in a popular and 
literary sense ; (2) the quality of life peculiar to the gods ; (3) true 


(1) Philo sometimes uses aeonios in the Platonic sense of true 
eternity, for he likes to be as Platonic as possible. (2) But, so far as I 
know, he never applies it to future punishment. (3) He often employs 


the phraseology in question to denote limited periods of time. Two 
illustrations of this are given in the chapter on Gehenna. The passage 
in which "eternal punishment" occurs is as follows : 

" It is better not to promise than not to give prompt assistance ; for 
no blame follows in the former case, but in the latter there is dissatisfac 
tion from the weaker class, and a deep hatred and everlasting punishment 
from such as are more powerful " (Fragmenta, tome ii. p. 667, Mangey's 

This passage is to be found in Rendel Harris's Greek and Latin 
edition of the Fragmenta of Philo, p. 10. 



Book of Enoch. 

93 7 " And after this, in the fifth week, at its close, will the house 
of glory and dominion be built for ever." This is said of the temple 
which was to pass away. 

5 9 . Righteous are to dwell in the earthly Paradise "in eternal 
happiness " ; and yet they are to die. 

10 5 . Azazel is bound in the wilderness in darkness "for ever." 
" For ever " here means for seventy generations. 

10io "They hope to live an eternal life, and that each one of them 
will live five hundred years." "Eternal" here means "five hundred 

39 5 . The angels are represented as interceding for men "for ever and 
ever" after the judgment. Unless the writer means to indicate that 
there is no end to the period during which intercession avails, lie is 
using the words "for ever and ever" here to equal "continually." 

The Mosaic law is called "the eternal law" (99 2 ). The writer of 
this section cannot have meant that the law of Moses was everlasting. 

Reference is also made to the "eternal heritage of their fathers" 
(99 14 ). Yet in this section of the Book of Enoch the whole earth is to 
pass away. 

Apocalypse of Baruch. 

In Apocalypse of Baruch (later half of 1st century A.D.) the phrase 
" for ever " (ets rov aliava) is twice used to equal " for the age," or " till the 
end of the age " (40 3 73 1 ). 

(See Charles, Esdiatolo'jy, p. 327.) 



Dr. Pusey gives an analysis of the use of aeonios in the N.T. (Ever 
lasting Punishment, pp. 38, 39), q.v. 

It is used of Fire three times (Matt. 18 8 25 41 , Jude 7 ). 

,, Punishment once (Matt. 25 46 ). 

,, Judgment once or possibly twice (Mark 3 29 (?), Heb. 6 2 ). 

Sin possibly once (Mark 3 29 ). 

Destruction once (2 Thess. I 9 ). 

The term is thus applied to future Retribution seven times in all. 
Whereas it is applied to Life forty -four times. Dr. Pusey remarks that 
" of the future it is nowhere used in the N.T. except of eternal life or 
punishment " (Everlasting Punishment, p. 39). 

Of these seven instances, the three in Matt, are not of high authority, 
being peculiar to that Gospel. The one in Jude 7 refers to the cities of 
Sodom and Gomorrha. The phrase " aeonian sin," in Mark 3 29 , is with 
out parallel in the N.T. Also, it is applied in Jewish literature to 
national and temporal sins. "Eternal Judgment," in Heb. 6 2 , means 
final judgment. Also, some passages in Hebrews indicate the annihila 
tion of the wicked (see Chapter on Gehenna). " Eternal destruction " in 
2 Thess. I 9 seems to me to signify annihilation. 

(2) A eonian = unending duration in, e.g., 2 Tim. 2 10 , Heb. 9 15 , 
2 Cor. 4 17 . 

(3) Aeonian = true eternity in, e.g., 1 Tim. I 17 , Heb. 9 14 . 

(4) Aeonian life in St. John = " life that is life indeed," "life of 
which time is no measure." Plato foreshadowed this idea in the Laws. 
But, whereas Plato's "eternal life" was an elevated, privileged state of 
existence, John's is an elevated state of thought, feeling, and purpose. 

(5) Aeonian = limited duration, e.g. Rom. 16 25 . 

(6) In the Synoptics and N.T. generally, " eternal life" is " the life 
of the Kingdom" (Matt. 19 16 , Mark 10 17 , Luke 10 25 etc.). This is 
the meaning of " eternal life " also in Jewish Apocalypse. The heirs of 
the Kingdom are said to enjoy life eternal even when the Kingdom is 
regarded as temporary. The Kingdom is eternal in the sense that it 
issues from eternity and cannot be conquered by anything that is of 
this world. Its citizens, therefore, enjoy a peculiar quality of life, 
whatever its duration triumphant, secure, part of the eternal order. 

The Synoptic doctrine corresponds to this. No doubt, Jesus thought 
of the Kingdom life as endless. Whether He believed that the Messianic 


State would be everlasting or temporary, He certainly believed that it 
could only merge in something higher than itself, the Kingdom of the 
Father in heaven. Hence, those who inherited the Kingdom inherited 
final blessedness. But He thought more of the religious and moral 
quality of the life of the Age to come than of its duration. 

St. John's presentation of our Lord's teaching, in this respect, did 
not differ essentially from that of the Synoptics. For him also eternal 
life = the Kingdom (John 3 8 - 5 ). The Kingdom is eternal life realised 
in community. 

(7) Of the phrases cited from St. Matt, aeonian punishment = " the 
punishment of the Messianic Age," and includes the idea of finality : 
aeonian fire " unquenchable fire," " Gehenna." 



Statement by Ignatius : No doctrine. (Earty in 2nd century.) 
Irenaeus (circ. 180 A.D.) : " Eternal Fire." 

Tertullian (circ. 200 A.D.) : "Eternal Fire." 

Cyril (350) : No doctrine. 

Apostolic Constitutions (circ. 350) : No doctrine. 

Marcellus' version of Creed (circ. 341) : No doctrine. 

Rufinus' (400) 

Apostles' Creed (8th century). ,, 


No doctrine ; except Quicunque Vult, which teaches everlasting 


Larger Catechism (1846) : " everlasting fire," " everlasting torment." 


Augsburg (1530): "torments" (art. 17). 

Anglican 39 Articles (1563) : No doctrine. 
2 3 


Zwinglian 67 Articles of Zurich (1523): "The judgment of the 
deceased is known to God alone " (58). 

Westminster Confession (1646-47) : " Everlasting torments." 

Racovian Confession of the Socinians (1605-9): Annihilation of 

Congregational Statement of Doctrine (1883) : " Everlasting punish 

Salvation Army (19th century) : "Everlasting torments." 
Christadelphian (19th century) : Annihilation of wicked. 
Unitarian (19th century) : Universal salvation. 

Moravian Confession (1911) : No doctrine. 

Union Articles of Indian Presbyterian Churches (1904). 

"The wicked . . . shall suffer the punishment due to their sins." 

Cf . Curtis, History of Creeds^ etc. ; also Schaff , Creeds of Christendom. 



Acts of the Apostles, 75 n., 179 n. 

Adam and Eve, Books of, 46, 72, 331, 

Advent, Second, Part I. Chap. u. : 
Jesus' predictions of, 54-8. 

Agnosticism in eschatology, 196-8, 

Akiba, 142-3. 

Alexandrian School, eschatology of, 
29-30, 134-40, 163-4. See also 
' ' Philo " (Index II. ), Wisdom,Bookof. 

Anabaptists, 193. 

Annihilation, in Jewish eschatology, 
15 f., 71, 105, 139, 142-3, 326-30; 
in N.T., 107-8, 111, 113-4, 164-5, 
171-2, 179 ; in Christian thought, 
191, 193, 195, 205, 354, and Part 
II. Chap. in. passim,. 

Antinomianism, 261. 

Apocalypse : literary characteristics of, 
7-11 ; its roots in ancient religions, 
8 ; a development of O.T. prophecy, 
8 ; its problem and solution, 11-3; 
its view of the universe compared 
with medieval view, 13-4 ; its 
optimism and pessimism, 13, 46-7, 
144; undogmatic character of its 
thought, 14-7, 24, 26, 33, 58-60, 
78-9, 103-8, 128 ; its imaginative 
freedom, 17-9 ; its importance, 
19-26 ; its influence on literature of 
Europe, 19-20 ; its influence on 
N.T. language, 20-2 ; on teaching 
of Jesus, 22-3, 34-62 ; its permanent 
value, 295-300, 318-9. 

Apocalypse of John. See Revelation, 

Book of. 

Apostles' Creed, 67, 92, 353. 
Apostolic Constitutions, 353. 
Assumption of Moses, 17, 42, 50, 329, 


Baptism for the dead, 89. 
Barnabas, Epistle of, 190. 
Baruch, Apocalypse of (2 Saruch), 11, 

12, 16, 17, 47, 106, 330, 332, 334, 

336, 342, 344, 350. 
Battle Hymn of American Republic, 

Blasphemy against Holy Spirit, 149- 

51, 154. 

Carthage, Synod of, 260. 

Christadelphians, 225, 354. 

Christology, 195. 

Church, in teaching of Jesus, 56-7, 66. 

Clement, Recognitions of, 191 n. 

Clement, Second Epistle of, 190. 

Compensation, in teaching of Jesus, 
157 ; as an argument for immor 
tality, 297-8. 

Conditional Immortality, Part II. 
Chap. in. ; in Jewish thought, 71, 
106, 134, 137-40 ; in Philo, 137-9 ; 
in N.T. teaching, 164, 171, 183; 
in Paul, 171, 179, 183; in John, 
164-5, 171 ; in ancient (non-Jewish) 
thought, 220 ; in the Christian 
Fathers, 190, 221-4 ; in modern 
thought, 205, 224-50 ; in Unitarian 



teaching, 224-5 ; the four modern 
forms of the doctrine : evolutionary 
form (Armand Sabatier, etc.). 209, 
226-31 ; philosophical form (Rothe, 
Ritschl, etc.), 231-5 ; undogmatic 
form (Lotze, Matthew Arnold, 
Tyrrell), 236-40; theological form 
(Edw. White, Petavel, etc.), 240-50 ; 
appreciation and criticism of theory, 
229-31, 234-5, 238-40, 242-51, 
303-4, 312. 

Conscience, as ground for belief in 
Future Judgment, 86. 

Constantinople, Synod of (A.D. 544), 

Creeds of Christendom, on Future 
Punishment, App. IV. 

Crisis, element of, in human experi 
ence, 86-8. 

Daniel, Book of, 334. 

Danton, 215. 

Death, use of the term in N.T., 161 ; 
by John, 162-7 ; by Paul, 168-73. 

Descent into Hades (book), 92. 

Destiny, threefold doctrine of : its 
permanent value, 307-9. 

Destiny, Final : Jewish doctrine, 
Part I. passim (see "Gehenna," 
"Hades") ; Jewish opinion in N.T. 
times, 133-45 ; N.T. teaching, 
Part II. Chap. i. ; teaching of 
Jesus, 149-60 ; apostolic teaching, 
160-82 ; teaching of John, 161-7 ; 
of Paul, 168-82. 

Deuteronomy, 342. 

Dionysius the Areopagite, 261. 

Dualism, in Johannine thought, 161-5. 

Egyptian religion, 220. 

Enoch, Book of, 10, 15-6, 18, 24, 29, 

45, 53, 54, 71, 72, 79, 89 n., 106, 

109-10, 112, 113, 149, 186, 326, 

334, 338, 340, 342, 350. 
Enoch, Secrets of (2 Enoch), 17, 18, 

72n., 139-40, 321, 329, 338, 340, 

342, 344. 
Eschatology : its importance and 

necessity, 3-4, 147-8 ; its difficulties, 

4-7 ; its conflict of authorities, 4 ; 

symbolic nature of its language, 
5-6 ; variety and confusion of its 
forms, 6 ; Jewish eschatology, 
Part I. passim, 133-145, App. I. ; 
compared with N.T., App. II. ; 
place of eschatology in teaching of 
Jesus, 39-43 ; agnosticism in eschat 
ology, 196-8, 293-4 ; forecast of 
future eschatology, 306-17. 

Eschatological interpretation of the 
Gospels (Weiss, Schweitzer), 38-43. 

Essenes, 134. 

"Eternal" in N.T. terminology, 112, 
App. III. ; Plato's use of the term, 
348-9 ; Philo's use, 112, 349-50. 

Eternal Life, two ways of conceiv 
ing it, 317-24 ; the apocalytic way, 
318-9; the mystical way, 319-23; 
teaching of N.T., 318, 345. See also 
App. III. 

Eucharist, 56, 67. 

Evil conceived as unreal, 123, 207, 274. 

Evil, Everlasting, dogma of, 103, 119, 
138, 183, 186, Part II. Chap. II., 
254, 309-10 ; in early Church, 
189-92 ; in teaching of Augustine, 
121-5, 191 ; in medieval Church, 
192-3 ; in Aquinas (denies eternal 
torment, teaches only eternal loss), 
200-3 ; in modern Church, 193-5 ; 
in our own times, 195-9 ; three 
main forms of the doctrine (Aquinas, 
Swedenborg, Salmond), 199-205 ; its 
speculative aspects, 207-11 ; its 
moral and religious sanctions, 211-7, 

Evolution and immortality, 209, 

Extinction. See "Annihilation." 

Ezekiel, 334. 

Ezra, Fourth, 17, 106, 143-5, 231, 
330, 332, 340. 

Fendal versus Williams (Decision of 
Privy Council, 1863-4), 253. 

Fire as a N.T. symbol, 107-15, 170. 
See also "Gehenna." 

' ' For ever, " use of phrase in Jewish 
writings, 350. 

Francis of Assisi, 263. 



Freedom of the Will, 2S4-6, 311-2, 

Friends of God, 261. 

Gehenna, Part I. Chap. iv. ; undog- 
matic nature of the conception 
(sometimes = annihilation, sometimes 
= eternal torment), 103-4, and this 
chapter, passim ; origin and develop 
ment of conception, 103-4 ; older 
than belief in personal immortality, 
104-5 ; in Jewish thought, 15, 71, 
72, 105-6, 133-45 passim, App. I. ; 
in N.T. teaching, 107-15, 186, 352 ; 
Jewish and N.T. teaching com 
pared, 342-3 ; in teaching of Jesus, 
108-15, 151, 153; absent from 
teaching of Paul, 107-8, 170-1 ; in 
early Church, 115-7 ; development 
into dogmatic form (Tertullian, 
Origen, Augustine) 117-25 ; in 
popular thought of Christianity, 
118-9 ; in modern thought (New 
man, Pusey), 126-7 ; true value of 
the conception, 129-30. See also 
" Evil, Everlasting." 
General Council, Fifth (A.D. 553), 259. 

Hades, see Intermediate State ; 

Descent of Christ into, 89, 90-3. 
Heavenly blessedness, Jewish and 

N.T. conceptions compared, 342-5. 
Hebrews, Epistle to the : its "idea of 

the Kingdom, 32, 59, 345 ; of the 

Judgment, 80 ; its use of the term 

"fire," 108. 
Hegelianism, 261. 
Hellenistic theology, 163-4. 
ffermas, Shepherd of, 92. 
Hillel, 105, 141-3. 
Holy Grail, 65. 
Holy Roman Empire, 65. 
Holy Spirit, blasphemy against, 149- 

51, 154. 

Imitation of Christ, 67. 
Indestructibility of the soul (as an 

objection to Conditioualism), 245. 
infancy, fate of those who die in, 


Intermediate State (Hades): Jewish 
conception of, 69-73, App. I. ; 
logically connected with idea of 
Kingdom, 68, 69-70 ; origins of the 
idea, 70-1 ; relation of Hades and 
Gehenna in Jewish thought, 71, 
72-3 ; N.T. doctrine, 74, 88-93 ; 
Paul and Peter on Christ's descent 
into Hades, 90-3 ; Jewish and N.T. 
doctrines compared, 340-1 ; theo 
logical developments of the idea, 
93-5; in Greek Church, 93-4; in 
Roman Church, 94 ; in Protestant 
thought ( ' ' Future Probation ") , 94-9 ; 
permanent value of belief in inter 
mediate state, 101-2. 

Isaiah, 9n., 29, 70 n., 104, 332, 334, 
336, 340, 342, 344. 

Jesus : His conception of the King 
dom of God, 34-63, 156 ; His unique 
religious consciousness, 44-5 ; His 
Messianic consciousness, 45-6 ; His 
"optimism, "46-51 ; His predictions 
of the Parousia, 54-8 ; His teaching 
on Final Destiny ; its negative side, 
149-53 ; its positive side, 153-60 ; 
His idea of God, 158. 

Job, Book of, 340. 

Jochanan ben Nuri, 142. 

Joel, 332. 

Johannine dualism and reconcilia 
tion, 161-7 ; Johannine and Hellen 
istic thought, 163-5. 

Johannine teaching ; on Kingdom of 
God, 32, 33, 352 ; on Second Advent, 
32 ; on Resurrection, 75, 76, 77 ; on 
Judgment, 80, 81 ; on Hades and 
Gehenna, 89, 107 ; on Final Destiny, 
161-7 ; suggests conditional immor 
tality, 164-5, 171 ; universalism, 
167 ; conception of Eternal Life, 
318, 319, 345, 346, 351, 352. 

John, Apocalypse of. See Revelation, 
Book of. 

Jubilees, Book of, 16, 18, 29, 150, 327, 
336, 342. 

Jude, Epistle of, 351. 

Judgment : Jewish ideas of, 69, App. 
I. ; logically involved in idea of 



Kingdom, 68, 69 : N.T. doctrine, 
74, 80-4 ; its twofold aspect, uni 
versal and personal, 81-4 ; Jewish 
and N.T. doctrines compared, 336-9 : 
theological interpretation of the 
idea, 84-6 ; its rational basis, 86-8 ; 
Christian modifications, 81, 88. 

Kingdom of God, Part I. Chap. u. ; 
the central thought of Apocalypse, 
27 ; Jewish doctrine of, 27-31 ; its 
conflicting elements (earthly paradise, 
heavenly kingdom, etc.), 27-31, 
App. I., 342-4 ; Rabbinic ideas of, 
III ; N.T. doctrine of, 31-63 ; in 
Hebrews, 32, 59, 345 ; in 1 Peter, 
32, 345; in 2 Peter, 32, 343; in 
Johannine writings, 32, 33, 352 ; in 
Paul, 33, 174-8 ; in teaching of 
Jesus, 34-63, 156 ; " eschatological " 
interpretation of, 38-43 ; Jewish and 
N.T. doctrine compared, 342-5 ; 
the idea in Church Tradition, 63-7. 

"Larger Hope, The," 265, 271. See 

also ' ' Universal Restoration. " 
Logos doctrine, 135, 137-8, 140, 163. 
Lord's Supper, 56. 

Maccabees, Second, 17, 72, 89 n., 328, 

Maccabees, Fourth, 89 n., 116, 139 n., 
329, 340. 

Malachi, 336. 

Messiah : fluctuations of the idea in 
Jewish thought, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 
29, 30, App. I., 332 ; Jewish and 
N.T. ideas compared, 332-3 ; the 
idea in N.T., 24, 31, 32, 74, 333; 
in teaching and consciousness of 
Jesus, 34-62 passim, esp. 45-6, 333. 

Messianic Age, Reign, etc. See ' ' King 
dom of God." 

Messianic consciousness of Jesus, 45-6. 

Messianic woes, 29, 36, 332-3. 

Micah, 344. 

Modernism, 195. 

Mysticism, 261-3, 319-23. 

Neo-Platonism, 122. 

Nicodemus, Gospel of, 92. 

Nirvana, 220. 

Norse mythology, 220. 

Optimism, Christian (on question of 
Final Destiny) : see " Universal 

"Optimism" of Jesus, 46-51. See 
also 153-60. 

Pantheism, 261. 

Parousia. See "Advent, Second." 

Paul : his teaching on the Kingdom, 
33, 174-8, 343 ; on Resurrection, 74, 
75, 76, 77, 78, 174-6, 335 ; on Judg 
ment, 83-4, 337 ; suggests belief in 
Hades, 89, 90 ; does not use Gehenna 
idea, 107-8, 170-1 ; his teaching on 
Final Destiny, 168-82 ; his doctrine 
of "death," 168-73 ; his doctrine of 
reconciliation, 173-8, 309 ; problem 
of dogmatic interpretation, 178-82. 

Personal and impersonal immortality, 

Pessimism in Jewish apocalypse, 13, 
46-7, 144. 

Peter, First Epistle of: on Kingdom 
of God, 32, 345 ; on Judgment, 80, 
83 ; on Christ's Descent into Hades 
89, 90-3, 160, 341 ; use of symbol 
"fire," 108. 

Peter, Second Epistle of, 32, 343. 

Pharisees, eschatology of, 133-4. 

Platonism, 135, 163. See "Plato" 
(Index II.). 

Pragmatism, 279. 

Prayer for the Dead : sanctioned in 
Jewish thought, 72, 73, 340 ; 
practised in early Church, 99 ; 
among Protestants, 99 ; the practice 
discussed, 100-1. 

Prayer-book of the Jews, 73. 

Predestination, in Augustine, 122 ; in 
Paul, 180, 182. 

Probation, Future, in Protestant 
thought, 94-8, 196, 307 ; in Clemens 
Alex., 255 ; as a feature of Con- 
ditionalism, 244. 

Proverbs, Book of, 173n. 

Punishment, Future: see "Gehenna" 



and "Evil, Everlasting"; in the 

Creeds, App. IV. 
Punishment, remedial and retributive 

views of, 212-5, 255, 258-9. 
Purgatory, 94, 120-1, 205. See also 

" Intermediate State." 

Rabbinic doctrine: of the Kingdom 
of God, 31 ; of Hades and Gehenna, 
72-3, 140-3. 

Racovian Catechism, 225, 354. 

Reconciliation, Pauline doctrine of, 

Reincarnation : the idea criticised, 79 ; 
in Jewish thought, 133-4, 136. 

Resurrection: Jewish ideas of, 68-9, 
134, 135, App. I., 334; determined 
by the Kingdom idea, 68-9 ; Jewish 
and N.T. ideas compared, 74-7, 
334-5 ; N.T. doctrine, 74-8, 174-6 ; 
dogmatic difficulties in the idea, 

Revelation, Book of, 21, 33, 80, 89, 
107, 129, 318, 319, 333, 335, 337, 
341, 343, 345. See also " Johannine 

"Revelation" Books, Jewish: per 
manent value of their teaching, 25-6. 
See also "Apocalypse." 

Shammai, 105, 106, 141, 142. 
Sheol, 70-1, 138, 327, 328. 
Sirach, Book of, 70, 173 n. 
Sleep, as a figure for death, 89-90, 340 


Socinians, 193, 225. 
Solomon, Psalms of, 16-7, 42, 328. 
Son of Man, 45 and note, 55, 57, 332 


Stoicism, 135, 163. 
Sybillinc Oracles, 255. 

Te Deum, 67. 

'estamentsofthe Twelve Patriarchs, 16, 

46,89,112, 171,175,327,334,338, 

'hirty-nine Articles of Anglican 

Church, 193, 353. 
Torment, Everlasting. See ' ' Gehenna " 

and "Evil, Everlasting." 

Unitarians, 224-5, 272, 354. 

Unity of human race : underlying idea 
of judgment and of intermediate 
state, 84-6, 101-2 ; as an objection 
to Conditionalism, 247-9 ; as recog 
nised in Universalist doctrine, 277-8. 

Universal Restoration, doctrine of, 
Part II. Chap. iv. ; in Book of 
Wisdom, 139-40; in relation to 
teaching of Jesus, 153-60 ; to teach 
ing of John, 166-7 ; of Paul, 174-8, 
179-81, 312; in N.T. generally, 
160 ; in ancient Church before 
Origen (Irenaeus, Clemens Alex., 
etc.), 253-5 ; in Origen, 255-8 ; in 
Gregory of Nyssa, 258-9 ; in Medi 
eval Church (Maximus, Erigena, 
the Friends of God), 259-63; in 
modern Church, 193, 197, 253, 263- 
72, 354 ; its various forms in Vic 
torian literature, 269-72; general 
exposition of doctrine, 274-80 ; 
ethical objections considered, 280-9 ; 
significance of the doctrine, 290, 
303-4, 305, 309. 

Universalist Publishing House, publi 
cations of, 277 n. 

Wisdom, Book of, 139-40, 163, 172, 
255, 329 ; its universalism, 139-40. 
Wisdom literature, 140 n. 
Westminster Confession, 354. 

Zechariah, 344. 
Zoroastrianism, 104, 113 n. 
Zwinglian Confession, 193, 354. 



(For ancient anonymous and pseudonymous works, see Index I.) 

Abbott, Ezra, 264 n. 

Abbott, Lyman, 226. 

Acton, Lord, 82. 

Alger, 119 n., 264 n., 277 n. 

Aquinas, 200-3, 206 n., 216, 261, 305, 


Archer-Hind, 79 n. 
Arnobius, 99, 117, 191, 223-4, 254. 
Arnold, Matthew, 226, 236-7. 
Athenagoras, 190. 
Augustine, 64, 67, 121-5, 191, 206, 

207, 224, 254, 282, 305, 319 n. 

Bacon, Lord, 65. 

Ballou, 255 n., 259 n., 277 n. 

Beard, 265 n. 

Beecher, H. W., 226. 

Beet, Agar, 196. 

Bengel, 265. 

Bergson, 226. 

Bernard of Cluny, 19, 67. 

Beyschlag, 107 n., 175 n., 179 n. 

Blackie, 347. 

Blake, 20, 348. 

Boehme, 267, 279, 320. 

Borrow, George, 149-50. 

Briggs, 91. 

Brooke, Stopford, 277 n. 

Browne, Sir Thos., 264. 

Browning, E. B., 271. 

Browning, R., 34, 239, 269, 272, 287. 

Bruce, A. B., 108 n., 200, 347. 

Burkitt, 14, 113, 336 n., 344 n. 

Burnett, Thos., 268. 

Bushnell, 226. 

Butler, Bp., 212, 264. 

Caird, Edward, 47. 
Caird, John, 271. 
Cairns, D. S., 66. 
Calvin, 91. 
Carlyle, 84, 215, 348. 
Charles, R. H., 17 n., 45 n., 53 n., 
136 n., 175 n., 344 n., 347, 350. 

Cheyne, 346. 

Clarke, J. F., 277 n. 

Clement of Alexandria, 91, 255. 

Cobbe, F. P., 272. 

Coleridge, 264. 

Cox, 271, 346. 

Crabbe, 266. 

Craigie, Mrs., 195. 

Curtis, 354. 

Cyril, 353. 

Dahle, 206 n. 

Dale, 226, 242. 

Dalraan, 45 n. 

Dante, 14, 19, 65, 92, 97, 118, 193, 

215, 313, 319n., 324. 
Dean, 344 n. 

Delitzsch, 95, 206 n., 281. 
Denck, 265. 
Denney, 138 n. 
De Quincey, 347. 
Deutsch, Em., 140-1. 
Dorner, 95, 197, 206 n., 265, 284, 

308 n., 346. 

Drummond, Henry, 226, 231. 
Drummond, James, 136 n. 
Duff, 253. 

Eckhart, Master, 261-3, 265. 
Edersheim, 141-2. 
Edwards, Jon., 199, 206 n. 
Erigena, 192, 260-1, 312, 314. 
Erskine, Thos., 265, 270, 281, 347. 
Ewing, Bp., 270. 

Fairbairn, 196-7. 

Fairweather, 136 11. 

Farrar, 141 n., 143 n., 277 n., 281, 346. 

Foster, John, 266-7. 

France, Anatole, 219. 

Garvie, 197 n., 198 n. 
Gibbon, 116. 
Gieseler, 259 n. 


Gladstone, 193. 

Godet, 95. 

Goethe, 91, 215, 229. 

Gordon, 179 n., 284. 

Goulburn, 347. 

Gregory of Nyssa, 97 n., 256, 257, 

258-9, 261, 265. 
Griffith Jones, 196, 258 n. 

Haering, 226. 
Hagenbach, 118n., 255 n. 
Harnack, 221, 255. 
Hausrath, 347. 
Hawthorne, 278. 
Hippolytus, 91. 
Howells, W. D., 248. 
Hume, 298. 
Huntingdon, 226. 

Ignatius, 91, 190, 353. 

Irenaeus, 91, 117, 190, 222, 254, 353. 

James, W., 279. 

Jerome, 256 n. 

Jewish Encyclopaedia, 106. 

Johnson, Samuel, 99. 

Josephus, 133-4. 

Jukes, 271, 347. 

Justin Martyr, 91, 117, 221-2. 

Kant, 207. 

Kennedy, H. A. A., 169 n., 175 n., 347. 

Kingsley, 346. 

Kuenen, 139. 

Law, William, 257, 265, 267-8, 281. 

Leibnitz, 206 n. 

Lincoln, Abr., 278. 

Longfellow, 272. 

Lotze, 226, 236. 

Luther, 65, 67, 91. 

McConnell, 226 u. 
Macdonald, George, 270-1. 
Mackintosh, H. R., 101 n., 197, 253, 


Marcellus, 353. 
Marcus Aurelius, 215. 
Martensen, 197-8, 206 n. \ Bur:,.. 

65^2727 274,]279, 281. 

Maurice, 260 n., 265, 269, 271, 281, 

320, 322 n., 347. 
Maximus, 260, 265. 
Mellone, 322 n. 
Menegoz, 226. 
Mills, L. H., 104 n., 113n. 
Milton, 20, 215, 229, 264. 
Moehler, 94 n., 126. 
Moffatt, 53 n., 177, 344 n. 
More, Sir Thos., 65. 
Morgan, 175 n., 179 n. 
Miiller, 95, 200. 

Neander, 256 n., 260 n., 265, 277 n. 
Newman, 121, 126-7, 320. 
Newton, Bp., 268 n. 

Origen, 91, 117, 120-1, 191, 192, 
253-8, 265, 279, 281, 287 n., 312, 

Orr, 197. 

Oxenham, 259 n. 

Palmer, F., 231. 

Palmer, W., 93-4. 

Parker, Joseph, 226. 

Parker, Theodore, 272. 

Pascal, 47. 

Petavel, 226, 240. 

Petersen, 264, 281. 

Pfleiderer, 175n., 232, 266 n. 

Philo, 9n., 30, 76, 107, 112, 134-9, 

140, 163, 169, 172, 186, 190, 221, 

261, 349-50. 

Plato, 19, 79, 221, 260, 321, 348-9. 
Plotinus, 122. 
Plumptre, 222, 346. 
Pollok, 119n. 
Polycarp, 91. 
Pope, 266. 
Pusey, 116 n., 127, 141, 175 n., 206 n., 

257 n., 259 n., 281, 308 n., 347, 351. 

Rendel Harris, 140 n., 350. 
Ritschl, 197, 226, 231-2. 
Robertson, F. W., 215 n. 
Rothe, 226, 231-5. 
Rufinus, 353. 

Sabatier, Armand, 226-30. 



Salmond, S. D. F., 143 n., 199, 204 f., 

308 n., 346. 
Schaff, 354. 

Schechter, 31 n., 141 n. 
Schelling, 265, 271. 
Schleiermacher, 265, 270. 
Schultz, 106 n. 
Schweitzer, 39-42. 
Scott, E. F., 45 n., 53 n., 57 n., 164 n., 

180 n. 

Shaftesbury, 266. 
Shakespeare, 215, 348. 
Shelley, 119 n., 322 n. 
Sophocles, 215. 
Spenser, 321. 
Stanley, Dean, 271. 
Stanton, 143 u., 346. 
Stevens, 346. 
Stevenson, 348. 
Suso, 118. 
Swedenborg, 199, 203-4. 

Tatian, 221. 

Tauler, 158, 257, 261-3, 265. 
Taylor, Jeremy, 225, 264. 
Tayler Lewis, 347. 
Tennyson, 20, 269, 271, 322. 
Tertullian, 91, 117, 120, 255, 353. 
Thorn, J. H., 277 n. 
Thomas a Kempis, 263, 319 n. 
Tillotson, 225, 264. 
Tyrrell, 195, 226, 237-9. 

Volz, 142, 175 n., 344 n. 
Von Hvigel, 195, 322 n. 

Weiss, Joh., 39-43, 44n.,49n., 53 n., 


Welch, A. C., 8n. 
Wendt, 347. 
Westcott, 347 

White, Edw., 226, 240-2, 281. 
Whitman, 272. 
Whittier, 248, 271. 
Winchester, 277 n. 


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